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Full text of "Miscellanies from the Oxford sermons and other writings of John Henry Newman"

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These selections have been made, with the author's 
consent, from his Oxford Sermons, and such other of his 
Anglican writings as presented short passages calculated 
to convey some idea of his style and modes of thinking 
Dr. Newman's works include a considerable body of 
abstract theological discussion. This has not been 
drawn on here, under the idea that those more directly 
interested in theological studies would prefer to go to 
the treatises themselves. Besides, these do not readily 
yield themselves to extract, owing to the texture of the 
reasoning being invariably so close throughout. The 
" Apologia " has been untouched from causes somewhat 
similar. The little volumes on Church History have 
supplied a few portraits. It is hoped that the passages 
chosen will, in some degree, contribute to make still 
better known one of the deepest thinkers and most 
eloquent writers of the present time. 






SAUL 27 

DAVID . . . . .43 

ST. PAUL 60 













































'""THOSE men are not necessarily the most useful men in 
their generation, nor the most favoured by God, who 
make the most noise in the world, and who seem to be prin- 
cipals in the great changes and events recorded in history. 
On the contrary, even wnen we are able to point to a 
certain number of men as the real instruments of any great 
blessings vouchsafed to mankind, our relative estimate of 
them, one with another, is often very erroneous ; so that 
on the whole, if we would trace truly the hand of God in 
human affairs, and pursue His bounty as displayed in the 
world to its original sources, we must unlearn our admira- 
tion of the powerful and distinguished, our reliance on the 
opinion of society, our respect for the decisions of the 
learned or the multitude, and turn our eyes to private 
life, watching in all we read or witness for the true signs 
of God's presence, the graces of personal holiness mani- 
fested in His elect ; which, weak as they may seem to 
mankind, are mighty through God, and have an influence 


upon the course of His Providence, and bring about 
great events in the world at large, when the wisdom and 
strength of the natural man are of no avail. 

Now, observe the operation of this law of God's 
government in respect to the introduction of those 
temporal blessings which are of the first importance in 
securing our well-being and comfort in the present life. 
For example, who was the first cultivator of corn ? Who 
first tamed and domesticated the animals whose strength 
we use, and whom we make our food? Or who first 
discovered the medicinal herbs, which from the earliest 
times have been our resource against disease ? If it was 
mortal man who thus looked through the vegetable and 
animal worlds, and discriminated between the useful and 
the worthless, his name is unknown to the millions whom 
he has thus benefited. It is notorious that those who 
first suggest the most happy inventions, and open a way 
to the secret stores of nature ; those who weary them- 
selves in the search after truth ; strike out momentous 
principles of action ; painfully force upon their contem- 
poraries the adoption of beneficial measures ; or, again, 
are the original cause of the chief events in national 
history, are commonly supplanted, as regards celebrity 
and reward, by inferior men. Their works are not called 
after them, nor the arts and systems which they have 
given the world. Their schools are usurped by strangers ; 


and their maxims of wisdom circulate among the chil- 
dren of their people, forming, perhaps, a nation's cha- 
racter, but not embalming in their own immortality the 
names of their original authors. 

Such is the history of the social and political world, 
and the rule discernible in it is still more clearly 
established in the world of morals and religion. Who 
taught the doctors and saints of the Church, who, in their 
day, or in after times, have been the most illustrious ex- 
pounders of the precepts of right and wrong, and by 
word and deed are the guides of our conduct? Did 
Almighty wisdom speak to them through the operations 
of their own minds, or rather, did it not subject them to 
instructors unknown to fame, wiser perhaps even than 
themselves ? Andrew followed John the Baptist, while 
Simon remained at his nets. Andrew first recognized 
the Messiah among the inhabitants of despised Nazareth, 
and he brought his brother to Him. Yet to Andrew, 
Christ spake no word of commendation, which has been 
allowed to continue on record ; whereas to Simon, even 
on his first coming, He gave the honourable name by 
which he is now designated, and afterwards put him 
forward as the typical foundation of His Church. No- 
thing indeed can hence be inferred, one way or other, 
concerning the relative excellence of the two brothers. 
So far only appears, that in the providential course oi 


events, the one was the secret beginner, and the other 
the public instrument of a great divine work. St. Paul, 
again, was honoured with the distinction of a miraculous 
conversion, and was called to be the chief agent in the 
propagation of the Gospel among the heathen. Yet to 
Ananias, an otherwise unknown saint dwelling at 
Damascus, was committed the high office of conveying 
the gifts of pardon and the Holy Ghost to the apostle of 
the Gentiles. 

Providence thus acts daily. The early life of all men 
is private. It is as children, generally, that their cha- 
racters are formed to good or evil ; and those who form 
them to good, their truest and chief benefactors, are un- 
known to the world. It has been remarked that some of 
the most eminent Christians have been blessed with re- 
ligious mothers, and have in after life referred their own 
graces to the instrumentality of their teaching. Augustine 
has preserved to the Church the history of his mother, 
Monica ; but in the case of others, even the name is 
denied to us of our great benefactress, whosoever she 
was, and sometimes, doubtless, the circumstance of her 
service altogether. 

When we look at the history of inspiration, the same 
rule still holds. Consider the Old Testament, which 
" makes us wise unto salvation." How great a part of it 
is written by authors unknown. The Book of Judges, 


the Second of Samuel, the Book of Kings, Chronicles, 
Esther, and Job, and great part of the Book of Psalms. 
The last instance is the most remarkable of these. " Profit- 
able " beyond words as is the instruction conveyed to us 
in every page of Scripture, yet the Psalms have been the 
most directly and visibly useful part of the whole volume, 
having been the Prayer Book of the Church ever since 
they were written ; and have done more (as far as we dare 
judge) to prepare souls for heaven than any of the 
inspired books, except the Gospels. Yet the authors of 
a large portion of them are altogether unknown. And 
so with the Liturgies, which have been the possession of 
the Christian Church from the beginning. Who were those 
matured and exalted saints who left them to us ? Nay, 
in the whole system of our worship, who are the authors 
of each decorous provision and each edifying custom ? 
Who found out the musical tunes in which our praises 
are offered up to God, and in which resides so wondrous 
a persuasion " to worship and fall down, and kneel 
before the Lord our Maker ?" Who were those religious 
men, our spiritual fathers in the " Catholic faith," who 
raised of old time the excellent fabrics all over the 
country in which we worship, though with less of grate- 
ful reverence for their memory than we might piously 
express ? Of these greatest men in every age there is 
" no memorial." They " are perished as though they had 


never been, and become as though they had never been 

Now I know that reflections of this kind are apt to 
sadden and vex us, and such of us particularly as are 
gifted with ardent and enthusiastic minds, with a 
generous love of what is great and good, and a noble 
hatred of injustice. These men find it difficult to 
reconcile themselves to the notion that the triumph of 
the truth in all its forms is postponed to the next world. 
They would fain anticipate the coming of the Righteous 
Judge. Nay, perhaps they are somewhat too favourably 
disposed towards the present world, to acquiesce without 
resistance in a doctrine which testifies to the corruption 
of its decisions and the worthlessness of its honours. 
But that it is a truth has already been shown almost as 
matter of fact, putting the evidence of Scripture out of 

Why indeed should we shrink from this gracious law 
of God's present providence in our own case or in the 
case of those we love, when our subjection to it does but 
associate us with the best and noblest of our race, or 
with beings of nature and condition superior to our own ? 
Andrew is scarcely known, except by name, while 
Peter has ever held the place of honour all over the 
Church ; yet Andrew brought Peter to Christ. And are 
not the blessed angels unknown to the world ? And is 


not God Himself, the Author of all good, hid from man- 
kind at large, partially manifested and poorly glorified 
in a few scattered servants here and there ? And His 
Spirit — do we know whence It cometh and whither It 
goeth ? And though He has taught men whatever there 
has been of wisdom among them from the beginning, 
yet when He came on earth in visible form, even then 
it was said of Him, " The world knew Him not." His 
marvellous providence works beneath a veil which speaks 
but an untrue language ; and to see Him who is the 
Truth and the Life, we must stoop underneath it, and so 
in one sense hide ourselves from the world. They who 
present themselves at kings' courts pass on to the inner 
chambers, where the gaze of the rude multitude cannot 
pierce ; and we, if we would see the King of kings in His 
glory, must be content to disappear from things that are 
seen. Hid are the saints of God. If they are known to 
men, it is accidentally, in their temporal offices, as 
holding some high earthly station, or effecting some 
mere civil work, not as saints. St. Peter has a place in 
history far more as a chief instrument of a strange revo- 
lution in human affairs than in his true character as a 
self-denying follower of his Lord, to whom truths were 
revealed which flesh and blood could not discern. 


~VX TE all profess to revere the Old Testament; yet, 
for some reason or other, at least one considerable 
part of it — the historical — is regarded by the mass, even 
of men who think about religion, as merely historical, 
as a relation of facts, as antiquities ; not in its divine 
characters, not in its practical bearings, not in reference 
to themselves. The notion that God speaks in it to 
them personally; the question, "What does He say?" 
" What must I do ?" does not occur to them. They 
consider that the Old Testament regards them only so 
far as it can be made typical of one or two of the great 
Christian doctrines ; they do not consider it in its fulness 
and in its literal sense as a collection of deep moral 
lessons, such as are not vouchsafed in the New, though 
St. Paul expressly says that it is profitable for instruction 
in righteousness. 

If the Old Testament history, generally, be intended 


as a permanent instruction to the Church, much more, 
one would think, must such prominent and remarkable 
passages in it as the history of Balaam. Yet I suspect 
a very great number of readers carry off little more from 
it than the impression of the miracle which occurs in it 
— the speaking of his ass. And not unfrequently they 
talk more lightly on the subject than is expedient. Yet 
I think some very startling and solemn lessons may be 
drawn from the history, some of which I shall now 
attempt to set before you. 

What is it which the chapters in question set before 
us ? The first and most general account of Balaam would 
be this : that he was a very eminent person in his age 
and country, that he was courted and gained by the 
enemies of Israel, and that he promoted a wicked cause 
in a very wicked way ; that when he could do nothing 
else for it, he counselled his employers to employ their 
women as means of seducing the chosen people into 
idolatry, and that he fell in battle in the war which 
ensued. These are the chief points, the prominent 
features of his history as viewed at a distance — and repul- 
sive indeed they are. He took on him the office of a 
tempter, which is especially the devil's office. But Satan 
himself does not seem so hateful near as at a distance ; 
and when we look into Balaam's history closely, we shall 
find points of character which may well interest those 


who do not consider his beginning and his end. Let 
us then approach him more nearly, and forget, for a 
moment, the summary account of him which I have just 
been giving. 

Now, first, he was blessed with God's especial favour. 
You will ask at once, How could so bad a man be in 
God's favour ? But I wish you to put aside reasonings, 
and contemplate facts. I say he was especially favoured 
by God. God has a store of favours in His treasure- 
house, and of various kinds — some for a time, some for 
ever ; some implying His approbation, others not. He 
showers favours even on the bad. He makes His sun 
to rise on the unjust as well as on the just He willeth 
not the death of a sinner. He is said to have loved the 
young ruler, whose heart, notwithstanding, was upon the 
world. His loving mercy extends over all His works. 
How He separates, in His own divine thought, kindness 
from approbation, time from eternity, what He does 
from what He foresees, we know not, and need not 
inquire. At present He is loving to all men, as if He 
did not foresee that some are to be saints, others repro- 
bates, to all eternity. He dispenses His favours variously 
— gifts, graces, rewards, faculties, circumstances, being 
indefinitely diversified, nor admitting of discrimination 
or numbering on our part. Balaam, I say, was in His 
favour ; not indeed for his holiness' sake, not for ever ; 


but in a certain sense, according to His inscrutable pur- 
pose who chooses whom He will choose, and exalts 
whom He will exalt, without destroying man's secret 
responsibilities, or His own governance, and the triumph 
of truth and holiness, and His own strict impartiality in 
the end. Balaam was favoured in an especial way above 
the mere heathen. Not only had he the grant of inspira- 
tion, and the knowledge of God's will, an insight into the 
truths of morality, clear and enlarged, such as we 
Christians even cannot surpass, but he was even admitted 
to conscious intercourse with God, such as even Christians 
have not. 

But, again, Balaam was, in the ordinary and com- 
monly-received sense of the word, without straining its 
meaning at all, a very conscientious man. That this 
is so, will be plain from some parts of his conduct and 
some speeches of his, of which I proceed to remind you, 
and which will show also his enlightened and admir- 
able view of moral and religious obligation. When 
Balak sent to him to call him to curse Israel, he did not 
make up his mind for himself, as many a man might do, 
or according to the suggestions of avarice and ambition. 
No ; he brought the matter before God in prayer. He 
prayed before he did what he did, as a religious man 
ought to do. Next, when God forbade his going, he at 
once, as he ought, positively refused to go. "Get you 


into your land," he said, " for the Lord refuseth to give 
me leave to go with you." Balak sent again a more 
pressing message and more lucrative offers, and Balaam 
was even more decided than before. " If Balak," he 
said, " would give me his house full of silver and gold, I 
cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do 
less or more." Afterwards God gave him leave to go. 
" If the men come to call thee, rise up and go with 
them." Then, and not till then, he went. 

Almighty God added, " Yet the word that I shall say 
unto thee, that shalt thou do." Now, in the next place, 
observe how strictly he obeyed this command. When 
he first met Balak, he said, in the words of the text, " Lo, 
I am come unto thee ; have I now any power at all to 
say anything ? The word that God putteth in my mouth, 
that shall I speak." Again, when he was about to 
prophesy, he said, " Whatsoever He showeth me I will 
tell thee •" and he did so, in spite of Balak's disappoint- 
ment and mortification to hear him bless Israel. When 
Balak showed his impatience he only replied, calmly, 
" Must I not take heed to speak that which the Lord 
hath put in my mouth?" Again he prophesied, and 
again it was a blessing ; again Balak was angered, and 
again the prophet firmly and serenely answered, " Told 
not I thee, saying, All that the Lord speaketh, that I 
must do?" A third time he prophesied blessing; and 

now Balak's anger was kindled, and he smote his hands 
together and bade him depart to his place. But Balaam 
was not thereby moved from his duty. " The wrath of a 
king is as messengers of death." Balak might have 
instantly revenged himself upon the prophet; but Balaam, 
not satisfied with blessing Israel, proceeded, as a prophet 
should, to deliver himself of what remained of the 
prophetic burthen, by foretelling, more pointedly than 
before, destruction to Moab and the other enemies of 
the chosen people. He prefaced his prophecy with 
these unacceptable words : " Spake I not also unto thy 
messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying, If Balak 
would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot 
go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do either 
good or bad of mine own mind, but what the Lord saith, 
that will I speak? And now, behold, I go unto my 
people ; come, therefore, and I will advertise thee what 
this people shall do to thy people in the latter days." 
After delivering his conscience, he " rose up, and went 
and returned to his place." 

All this surely expresses the conduct and the feelings 
of a high-principled, honourable, conscientious man. 
Balaam, I say, was certainly such in that very sense in 
which we commonly use those words. He said, and he 
did ; he professed, and he acted according to his profes- 
sions ; there is no inconsistency in word and deed. He 


obeys as well as talks about religion ; and this being the 
case, we shall feel more intimately the value of the 
following noble sentiments which he lets drop from time 
to time, and which, if he had shown less firmness in his 
conduct, might have passed for mere words, the words of 
a maker of speeches, a sophist, moralist, or orator. " Let 
me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end 
be like his." " God is not a man, that He should he ; 
neither the Son of Man, that He should repent .... 
Behold, I have received commandment to bless ; and 
He hath blessed, and I cannot reverse it." " I shall see 
Him, but not now ; I shall behold Him, but not nigh." 
It is remarkable that these declarations are great and 
lofty in their mode of expression ; and the saying of his 
recorded by the prophet Micah is of the same kind. 
Balak asked what sacrifices were acceptable to God- 
Balaam answered, " He hath showed thee, O man, what 
is good ; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to 
do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with 
thy God ?" 

Viewing then the inspired notices concerning Balaam 
in all their parts, we cannot deny to him the praise which, 
if those notices have a plain meaning, they certainly do 
convey, that he was an honourable and religious man, 
with a great deal of what was good and noble about him; 
a man whom any one of us at first sight would have 


trusted, sought out in our difficulties, perhaps made the 
head of a party, and, anyhow, spoken of with great 
respect. We may indeed, if we please, say that he fell 
away afterwards from all this excellence ; though, aftei 
all, there is something shocking in such a notion. Nay, 
it is not natural even that ordinary honourable men 
should suddenly change ; but however this may be said, 
it may be said he fell away ; but I presume it cannot be 
said he was other than a high-principled man (in the 
language of the world) when he so spake and acted. 

But now the strange thing is, that at this very time, 
while he so spake and acted, he seems as in one sense to 
be in God's favour, so in another and higher to be under 
His displeasure. If this be so, the supposition that he 
fell away will not be in point, the difficulty it proposes 
to solve will remain ; for it will turn out that he was 
displeasing to God. Amid his many excellences, the 
passage I have in mind is this, as you will easily sup- 
pose : " God's anger was kindled, because he went " with 
the princes of Moab ; " and the angel of the Lord stood 
in the way for an adversary against him." Afterwards, 
when God opened his eyes, " he saw the angel of the 
Loid standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his 
hand." "And Balaam said, I have sinned, for I knew 
not that thou stoodest in the way against me ; now, 
therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again." 



You observe, Balaam said, "I have sinned," though he 
avers he did not know that God was his adversary. 
What makes the whole transaction more strange is this, 
that Almighty God had said before, " If the men come 
to call thee, rise up and go with them •" and that when 
Balaam offered to go back again, the angel repeated, 
" Go with the men." And afterwards we find, in the 
midst of his heathen enchantments, " God met Balaam," 
and "put a word in his mouth;" and afterwards "the 
Spirit of God came unto him." 

Summing up then what has been said, we seem, in 
Balaam's history, to have the following remarkable case, 
that is, remarkable according to our customary judgment 
of things : a man divinely favoured, visited, influenced, 
guided, protected, eminently honoured, illuminated, a 
man possessed of an enlightened sense of duty, and of 
moral and religious acquirements, educated, high-minded, 
conscientious, honourable, firm, and yet on the side of 
God's enemies, personally under God's displeasure, and 
in the end (if we go to that) the direct instrument of 
Satan, and having his portion with the unbelievers. I 
do not think I have materially overstated any part of 
this description ; but if it be correct only in substance, it 
certainly is most fearful, after allowing for incidental 
exaggeration, most fearful to every one of us, the more 
fearful the more we are conscious to ourselves in the main 


of purity of intention in what we do, and conscientious 
adherence to our sense of duty. 

And now it is natural to ask, What is the meaning of 
this startling exhibition of God's ways? Is it really 
possible that a conscientious and religious man should be 
found among the enemies of God ; nay, should be per- 
sonally displeasing to Him, and that at the very time 
God was visiting him with extraordinary favour ? What 
a mystery is this ! Surely, if this be so, revelation has 
added to our perplexities, not relieved them. What 
instruction, what profit, what correction, what doctrine is 
there in such portions of inspired Scripture ? 

In answering this difficulty, I observe, in the first 
place, that it certainly is impossible — quite impossible — 
that a really conscientious man should be displeasing to 
God ; at the same time, it is possible to be generally 
conscientious, or what the world calls honourable and 
high-principled, yet to be destitute of that religious fear 
and strictness which God calls conscientiousness, but 
which the world calls superstition or narrowness of mind. 
And, bearing this in mind, we shall, perhaps, have a 
solution of our perplexities concerning Balaam. 

Balaam obeyed God from a sense of its being right to 
do so, but not from a desire to please Him, from fear and 
love. He had othet ends, aims, wishes of his own, 
distinct from God's will and purpose, and he would have 


effected these if he could. His endeavour was, not to 
please God, but to please self without displeasing God ; 
to pursue his own ends as far as was consistent with 
duty. In a word, he did not give his heart to God, but 
obeyed Him, as a man may obey human law, or observe 
the usages of society or his country, as something ex- 
ternal to himself, because he knows he ought to do 
so, from a sort of rational sense, a conviction of its 
propriety, expediency, or comfort, as the case may 

You will observe he wished to go with Balak's mes- 
sengers, only he felt he ought not to go ; and the problem 
which he attempted to solve was, how to go and yet not 
offend God. He was quite resolved he would, anyhow, 
act religiously and conscientiously ; he was too honour- 
able a man to break any of his engagements ; if he had 
given his word, it was sacred ; if he had duties, they 
were imperative ; he had a character to maintain, and an 
inward sense of propriety to satisfy ; but he would have 
given the world to have got rid of his duties ; and the 
question was, how to do so without violence ; and he did 
not care about walking on the very brink of transgres- 
sion, so that he could keep from falling over. Ac- 
cordingly, he was not content with ascertaining God's 
will, but he attempted to change it. He inquired of Him 
a second time, and this was to tempt Him. Hence, while 

God bade him go, His anger was kindled against him 
because he went. 

This surely is no uncommon character ; rather, it is the 
common case even with the more respectable and praise- 
worthy portion of the community. I say plainly, and 
without fear of contradiction, though it is a serious thing 
to say, that the aim of most men esteemed conscientious 
and religious, or who are what is called honourable, 
upright men, is, to all appearance, not how to please 
God, but how to please themselves without displeasing 
Him. This surely is so plain that it is scarcely necessary 
to enlarge upon it. Men do not take for the object to- 
wards which they act, God's will, but certain maxims, 
rules, or measures, right perhaps as far as they go, 
but defective because they admit of being subjected to 
certain other ultimate ends, which are not religious. 
Men are just, honest, upright, trustworthy ; but all this, 
not from the love and fear of God, but from a mere 
feeling of obligation to be so, and in subjection to 
certain worldly objects. And thus they are what is 
popularly called moral, without being religious. Such 
was Balaam. He was, in a popular sense, a strictly 
moral, honourable, conscientious man : that he was not 
so in a heavenly and true sense is plain, if not from the 
considerations here insisted on, at least from his after 
history, which (we may presume) brought to light his 


secret defect, in whatever it consisted. His defect lay 
in this, that he had not a single eye towards God's will, 
but was ruled by other objects. 

Why did Almighty God give Balaam leave to go to 
Balak, and then was angry with him for going? I 
suppose for this reason, because his asking twice was 
tempting God. God is a jealous God. Sinners as we 
are — nay, as creatures of His hands — we may not safely 
intrude upon Him, and make free with Him. We may 
not dare to do that which we should not dare to do with 
an earthly superior, which we should be punished, for 
instance, for attempting in the case of a king or noble of 
this world. To rush into His presence, to address Him 
familiarly, to urge Him, to strive to make our duty lie in 
one direction when it lies in another, to handle rudely 
and practise upon His holy word, to trifle with truth, to 
treat conscience lightly, to take liberties (as it may be 
called) with anything that is God's ; all irreverence, pro- 
faneness, unscrupulousness, wantonness, is represented in 
Scripture, not only as a sin, but as felt, noticed, quickly 
returned on God's part (if I may dare use such human 
words of the Almighty and All-holy God, without trans- 
gressing the rule I am myself laying down — but He 
vouchsafes in Scripture to represent Himself to us in that 
only way in which we can attain to the knowledge of 
Him) — I say, all irreverence towards God is represented 


as being jealously, and instantly, and fearfully noticed 
and visited, as friend or stranger among men might 
resent an insult shown him. This should be carefully 
considered. We are apt to act towards God and the 
things of God as towards a mere system, a law, a name, a 
religion, a principle ; not as against a Person, a living, 
watchful, present, prompt, and powerful eye and arm. 
That all this is a great error, is plain to all who study 
Scripture ; as is sufficiently shown by the death of 
50,070 persons for looking into the Ark — the death of 
the prophet by the lion, who was sent to Jeroboam from 
Tudah, and did not minutely obey his instructions — the 
slaughter of the children at Bethel by the bears, for 
mocking Elisha — the exclusion of Moses from the Pro- 
mised Land for smiting the rock twice — and the judgment 
on Ananias and Sapphira. 

Now Balaam's fault seems to have been of this nature. 
God told him distinctly not to go to Balak. He was 
rash enough to ask a second time, and God as a punish- 
ment gave him leave to ally himself to His enemies, and 
to take part against His people. With this presumptuous- 
ness and love of self in his innermost heart, his prudence, 
firmness, wisdom, illumination, and general conscien- 
tiousness, availed him nothing. 

A number of reflections crowd upon the mind on the 
review of this awful history, as I may well call it. First, 


we see how little we can depend, in judging of right and 
wrong, on the apparent excellence and high character of 
individuals. There is a right and wrong in matters of 
conduct, in spite of the world ; but it is the world's aim 
and Satan's aim to take our minds off from the indelible 
distinctions of things, and to fix our thoughts upon man ; 
to make us dependent on his opinion, his patronage, his 
honour, his smiles, and his frowns. But if Scripture is to 
be our guide, it is plain that the most conscientious, 
religious, high-principled, honourable men (I use the words 
in their ordinary, not in their Scriptural sense), may be on 
the side of evil, may be Satan's instruments in cursing — if 
that were possible — or at least in seducing and en- 
feebling the people of God. For in the world's judg- 
ment, even when most refined, a person is conscientious 
and consistent who acts up to his standard. This is the 
world's highest flight ; but in its ordinary judgment, a 
man is conscientious and consistent who is only incon- 
sistent and goes against conscience in any extremity, 
when hardly beset, and when he must cut the knot or 
remain in present difficulties. That is, he is thought to 
obey conscience who only disobeys it when it is a 
praise and merit to obey it. This, alas ! is the way with 
some of the most honourable of mere men of the world ; 
nay, of the mass of (so called) respectable men. 

A second reflection which rises in the mind has re- 


lation to the wonderful secret providence of God, while 
all things seem to go on according to the course of this 
world. Balaam did not see the angel, yet the angel 
went out against him as an adversary. He had no open 
denunciation of God's wrath directed against him. He 
had sinned, and nothing happened outwardly, but wrath 
was abroad, and in his path. This, again, is a very 
serious and awful thought. God's arm is not shortened. 
What happened to Balaam is as if it took place yesterday. 
God is what he ever was ; we sin as man has ever sinned. 
We sin without being aware of it. God is our enemy 
without our being aware of it ; and when the blow falls, 
we turn our thoughts to the creature, we ill treat our 
ass, we lay the blame on circumstances of this world, 
instead of turning to Him. " Lord, when Thy hand is 
lifted up, they will not see ; but they shall see " — in the 
next world, if not here — " and be ashamed for their envy 
of the people. Yea, the fire of Thine enemies shall devour 

Here, too, is a serious reflection, that when we 
have begun an evil course we cannot retrace our steps. 
Balaam was forced to go with the men ; he offered to 
draw back — he was not allowed — yet God's wrath fol- 
lowed him. This is what comes of committing our- 
selves to an evil line of conduct; and we see daily 
instances of it in our experience of life. Men get 


entangled, and are bound hand and foot in dangerous 
courses. They make imprudent marriages or connec- 
tions ; they place themselves in dangerous situations ; 
they engage in unprofitable or shameful undertakings. 
Too often, indeed, they do not discern their evil plight ; 
but when they do they cannot draw back. God seems 
to say, " Go with the men." They are in bondage, and 
they must make the best of it ; being the slave of the 
creature, without ceasing to be the responsible servants 
of God ; under His displeasure, yet bound to act as if 
they could please Him. All this is very fearful. 

Lastly, God gives us warnings now and then, but does 
not repeat them. Balaam's sin consisted in not acting 
on what was told him once for all. Let us beware of 
trifling with conscience. It is often said that second 
thoughts are best ; so they are in matters of judgment, 
but not in matters of conscience. In matters of duty 
first thoughts are commonly best — they have more in 
them of the voice of God. 


'"THE Israelites seem to have asked for a king from an 
unthankful caprice and waywardness. The ill con- 
duct, indeed, of Samuel's sons was the occasion of the 
sin, but "an evil heart of unbelief," to use Scripture 
language, was the real cause of it. They had ever been 
restless and dissatisfied, asking for flesh when they had 
manna, fretful for water, impatient of the wilderness, bent 
on returning to Egypt, fearing their enemies, murmuring 
against Moses. They had miracles even to satiety, and 
then for a change they wished a king, like the nations. 
This was the chief reason of their sinful demand. And 
further, they were dazzled with the pomp and splendour 
of the heathen monarchs around them, and they desired 
some one to fight their battles, some visible succour to 
depend on, instead of having to wait for an invisible 
Providence, which came in its own way and time, little 
by little, being dispensed silently, or tardily, or (as they 
might consider) unsuitably. Their carnal hearts did not 


love the neighbourhood of heaven, and like the inha- 
bitants of Gadara afterwards, they prayed that Almighty 
God would depart from their coasts. 

Such were some of the feelings under which they 
desired a king like the nations ; and God at length 
granted their request. To punish them He gave them a 
king after their own heart, Saul, the son of Kish, a 
Benjamite, of whom the Bible speaks in these terms : " I 
gave them a king in mine anger, and took him away in 
my wrath." 

There is in true religion a sameness, an absence of hue 
and brilliancy, in the eyes of the natural man ; a plain- 
ness, austereness, and (what he considers) sadness. It is 
like the heavenly manna of which the Israelites com- 
plained, insipid, and at length wearisome, " like wafers 
made with honey." They complained that " their soul 
was dried away." " There is nothing at all," they said, 
"beside this manna before our eyes We re- 
member the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely ; the 
cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the 
onions, and the garlick " (Numbers xi. 5 ; Exodus xvi.). 
Such were the dainty meats in which their soul delighted, 
and for the same reason they desired a king. Samuel 
had too much of primitive simplicity about him to please 
them; they felt they were behind the world, and 
clamoured to be put on a level with the heathen. 


Saul, the king whom God gave them, had much to recom- 
mend him to minds thus greedy of the dust of the earth. 
He was brave, daring, resolute, gifted, too, with strength 
of body as well as of mind — a circumstance which seems 
to have attracted their admiration. He is described in 
person as if one of those sons of Anak, before whose 
giant-forms the spies of the Israelites in the wilderness 
were as grasshoppers. " A choice young man, and a 
goodly. There was not among the children of Israel a 
goodlier person than he ; from his shoulders and upward 
he was higher than any of the people." Both his virtues 
and his faults were such as became an eastern monarch, 
and were adapted to secure the fear and submission of 
his subjects. Pride, haughtiness, obstinacy, reserve, 
jealousy, caprice — these in their way were not unbe- 
coming qualities in the king after whom their imagination 
roved. On the other hand, the better parts of his 
character were of an excellence sufficient to engage the 
affection of Samuel himself. 

As to Samuel, his conduct is far above human praise. 
Though injuriously treated by his countrymen, who cast 
him off after he had served them faithfully till he was 
" old and grey-headed," and who resolved on setting over 
them a king against his earnest entreaties ; yet we find 
no trace of coldness or jealousy in his behaviour towards 
Saul. On his first meeting of him he addressed him in 


the words of loyalty. " On whom is all the desire of 
Israel ? Is it not on thee and on all thy father's house ?" 
Afterwards, when he anointed him king, he "kissed him 
and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee 
to be king over His inheritance ?" When he announced 
him to the people as their king, he said, " See ye him 
whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him 
among all the people." And some time after, when Saul 
had irrecoverably lost God's favour, we are told " Samuel 
came no more to see Saul until the day of his death ; 
nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul." In the next 
chapter he is thus rebuked for immoderate grief : " How 
long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him 
from reigning over Israel" (i Sam. ix. 20; x. 1, 24; xv. 
35) ? Such sorrow speaks favourably for Saul as well as 
for Samuel. It is not only the grief of a loyal subject and 
a zealous prophet, but, moreover, of an attached friend ; 
and, indeed, instances are recorded, in the first years of 
his reign, of forbearance, generosity, and neglect of self, 
which sufficiently account for the feelings with which 
Samuel regarded him. David, under very different cir- 
cumstances, seems to have felt for him a similar affec- 

The higher points of his character are brought out in 
instances such as the following. The first announcement 
of his elevation came upon him suddenly, but apparently 


without unsettling him. He kept it secret, leaving it to 
Samuel, who had made it to him, to publish it. " Saul 
said unto his uncle, He (that is, Samuel) told us 
plainly that the asses were found ; but of the matter of 
the kingdom, whereof Samuel spake, he told him not." 
Nay, it would even seem he was averse to the dignity 
intended for him ; for when the divine lot fell upon him 
he hid himself, and was not discovered by the people 
without recourse to divine assistance. The appointment 
was at first unpopular. "The children of Belial said, 
How shall this man save us ? They despised him, and 
brought him no presents ; but he held his peace." Soon 
the Ammonites invaded the country beyond Jordan, with 
the avowed intention of subjugating it. They sent to 
Saul for relief almost in despair, and the panic spread in 
the interior ^.s well as among those whose country was 
immediately threatened. The sacred writer proceeds : 
" Behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field; and 
Saul said, What aileth the people, that they weep? and 
they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh. And 
the Spirit of God came upon Saul, and his anger was 
kindled greatly." His order for an immediate gathering 
throughout Israel was obeyed with the alacrity with 
which the multitude serve the strong-minded in times of 
danger. A decisive victory over the enemy followed. 
Then the popular cry became, " Who is he that said, Shall 


Saul reign over us? Bring the men, that we may put 
them to death. And Saul said, There shall not a man be 
put to death this day; for to-day the Lord hath wrought 
salvation in Israel" (i Sam. x., xi.). 

Such was Saul's character and success : his character 
faulty, yet not without promise ; his success in arms as 
great as his carnal subjects could have desired. Yet in 
spite of Samuel's private liking for him, and in spite of 
the good fortune which actually attended him, we find 
that from the beginning the prophet's voice is raised 
both against people and king in warnings and rebukes, 
which are omens of his destined destruction. According 
to the text, " I gave them a king in mine anger, and 
took him away in my wrath." At the very time that 
Saul was publicly received as king, Samuel protested, 
" Ye have this day rejected your God. who Himself saved 
you out of all your adversities and your tribulations." In 
a subsequent assembly of the people, in which he testified 
his uprightness, he says, " Is it not wheat-harvest to-day ? 
I will call unto the Lord, and He shall send thunder and 
rain, that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is 
great in asking you a king." Again, " If ye shall still do 
wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king " 
(i Sam. xii. 17, 25). And after this, on the first instance 
of disobedience, and at first sight no very heinous sin, the 
sentence of rejection is passed upon him : " Thy kingdom 


shall not continue ; the Lord hath sought Him a man 
after His own heart." 

Here, then, a question may be raised. Why was Saul 
thus marked for vengeance from the beginning? Why 
these presages of misfortune which from the first hung 
over him, gathered, fell in storm and tempest, and at 
length overwhelmed him ? Is his character so essentially 
faulty that it must be thus distinguished for reprobation 
above all the anointed kings after him? Why, while 
David is called a man after God's own heart, should Saul 
be put aside as worthless ? 

This question leads us to a deeper inspection of his 
character. Now we know the first duty of every man is 
the fear of God — a reverence for His word, a love towards 
Him, a desire to obey Him ; and besides, it was peculiarly 
incumbent on the King of Israel, as God's vicegerent, by 
virtue of his office, to promote His glory whom his 
subjects had rejected. 

Now Saul " lacked this one thing." His character, 
indeed, is obscure, and we must be cautious while con- 
sidering it. Still, as Scripture is given us for our instruc- 
tion, it is surely right to make the most of what we find 
there, and to form our judgment by such lights as we 
possess. It would appear, then, that Saul was never 
under the abiding sense of religion, or, in Scripture 
language, " the fear of God," however he might be at 



times moved and softened. Some men are inconsistent 
in their conduct, as Samson, or as Eli, in a different 
way; and yet may have lived by faith, though a weak 
faith. Others have sudden falls, as David had. Others 
are corrupted by prosperity, as Solomon. But as to Saul, 
there is no proof that he had any deep-seated religious 
principle at all. Rather it is to be feared that his history 
is a lesson to us, that the "heart of unbelief" may exist 
in the very sight of God, may rule a man in spite of 
many natural advantages of character, in the midst of 
much that is virtuous, amiable, and commendable. 

Saul, it would seem, was naturally brave, active, 
generous, and patient ; and what Nature made him such 
he remained, that is, without improvement, with virtues 
which had no value, because they required no effort and 
implied the influence of no principle. On the other 
hand, when we look for evidence of his faith, that is, his 
practical sense of things unseen, we discover instead a 
deadness to all considerations not connected with this 
present world. It is his habit to treat prophet and priest 
with a coldness, to say the least, which seems to argue 
some great internal defect. It would not be inconsistent 
with the Scripture account of him, even should the real 
fact be, that (with some general notions concerning the 
being and providence of God) he doubted of the divinity 
of the dispensation of which he was an instrument 


The circumstance which first introduces him to the 
inspired history is not in his favour. While in search of 
his father's asses, which were lost, he came to the city 
where Samuel was ; and though Samuel was now an old 
man, and from childhood known as the especial minister 
and prophet of the God of Israel, Saul seems to have 
considered him as a mere diviner, such as might be found 
among the heathen, who, for " the fourth part of a shekel 
of silver," would tell him his way. 

The narrative goes on to mention, that after his leaving 
Samuel, " God gave him another heart f and on meeting 
a company of prophets, " the Spirit of God came upon 
him, and he prophesied among them." Upon this, " all 
that knew him beforetime " said, " What is this that is 
come unto the son of Kish ? is Saul also among the 
prophets ? . . . . therefore it became a proverb." From 
this narrative we gather that his carelessness and cold- 
ness in religious matters were so notorious, that in the 
eyes of his acquaintance there was a certain strangeness 
and incongruity which at once struck the mind in 
associating him with a school of the prophets. 

Nor have we any reason to believe, from the after 
history, that the divine gift, then first imparted, left any 
religious effect upon his mind. At a later period of his 
life we find him suddenly brought under the same sacred 
influence on his entering the school where Samuel taught ; 


but instead of softening him, its effect upon his outward 
conduct did but testify the fruitlessness of Divine Grace 
when acting upon a will obstinately set upon evil. 

The immediate occasion of his rejection was his failing 
under a specific trial of his obedience, set before him at 
the very time he was anointed. He had collected with 
difficulty an army against the Philistines : while waiting 
for Samuel to offer the sacrifice, his people became dis- 
pirited, and began to fall off and return home. Here he 
was doubtless exposed to the temptation of taking unlaw- 
ful measures to put a stop to their defection. But when 
we consider that the act to which he was persuaded was 
no less than that of his offering sacrifice, he being neither 
priest nor prophet, nor having any commission thus to 
interfere with the Mosaic ritual, it is plain " his forcing 
himself" to do so (as he tenderly described his sin) was a 
direct profaneness — a profaneness which implied that he 
was careless about forms, which in this world will ever 
be essential to things supernatural, and thought it mattered 
little whether he acted in God's way or in his own. 

After this, he seems to have separated himself from 
Samuel, whom he found unwilling to become his instru 
ment, and to have had recourse to the priesthood instead 
Ahijah, or Ahimelech (as he is afterwards called), the 
high priest, followed his camp ; and the ark too, in spite 
ji the warning conveyed by the disasters which attended 


the presumptuous use of it in the time of Eli. " And 
Saul said unto Ahijah, Bring hither the ark of God." 
While it was brought, a tumult which was heard in the 
camp of the Philistines increased. On this interruption, 
Saul irreverently put the ark aside, and went out to the 

It will be observed that there was no professed or 
intentional irreverence in Saul's conduct ; he was still on 
the whole the same he had ever been. He outwardly 
respected the Mosaic ritual. About this time he built his 
first altar to the Lord, and in a certain sense seemed 
to acknowledge God's authority (i Sam. xiv. 35). But 
nothing shows he considered there was any vast distinc- 
tion between Israel and the nations around them. He 
was indifferent, and cared for none of these things. The 
chosen people desired a king like the nations, and such a 
one they received. 

After this he was commanded to "go and smite the 
sinners, the Amalekites, and utterly destroy them and 
their cattle." This was a judgment on them which God 
had long decreed, though He had delayed it ; and He 
now made Saul the minister of His vengeance. But 
Saul performed it only so far as fell in with his own 
inclinations and purposes. He smote, indeed, the 
Amalekites, and " destroyed all the people with the edge 
of the sword " — this exploit had its glory. The best of the 


flocks and herds he spared, and why ? To sacrifice there- 
with to the Lord. But since God had expressly told him 
to destroy them, what was this but to imply that divine 
intimations had nothing to do with such matters ? What 
was it but to consider that the established religion was 
but a useful institution, or a splendid pageant suitable to 
the dignity of monarchy, but resting on no unseen super- 
natural sanction ? Certainly, he in no sense acted in the 
fear of God, with the wish to please Him, and the con- 
viction that he was in His sight. One might consider it 
mere pride and wilfulness in him, acting in his own way 
because it was his own (which doubtless it was in great 
measure), except that he appears to have had an eye to 
the feelings and opinions of men as to his conduct, though 
not to God's judgment. He "feared the people, and 
obeyed their voice." Again, he spared Agag, the king of 
the Amalekites. Doubtless he considered Agag as " his 
brother," as Ahab afterwards called Benhadad. Agag 
was a king, and Saul observed towards him that courtesy 
and clemency which earthly monarchs observe one 
towards another, and rightly, when no divine command 
comes in the way. But the God of Israel required a 
king after his own heart, jealous of idolatry; the people 
had desired a king like the nations around them. 

It is remarkable, however, that while he spared Agag, 
he attempted to exterminate the Gibeonites with the 


sword, who were tolerated in Israel by virtue of an 
oath taken in their favour by Joshua and " the princes of 
the congregation." This he did "in his zeal to the 
children of Israel and Judah." 

From the time of his disobedience in the matter of 
Amalek, Samuel came no more to see Saul, whose season 
of probation was over. The evil spirit exerted a more 
visible influence over him, and God sent Samuel to anoint 
David privately, as the future king of Israel. I need not 
trace further the course of moral degradation which is 
exemplified in Saul's subsequent history. Mere natural 
virtue wears away when men neglect to deepen it into 
religious principle. Saul appears in his youth to be 
unassuming and forbearing : in advanced life he is not 
only proud and gloomy (as he ever was in a degree), but 
cruel, resentful, and hard-hearted, which he was not in 
his youth. His injurious treatment of David is a long 
history, but his conduct to Ahimelech, the high priest, 
admits of being mentioned here. Ahimelech assisted 
David in his escape. Saul resolved on the death of 
Ahimelech and all his father's house. On his guards 
refusing to execute his command, Doeg, a man of Edom 
one of the nations Saul was raised up to withstand, 
undertook the atrocious deed. On that day eighty-five 
priests were slain. Afterwards Nob, the city of the 
priests, was smitten with the edge of the sword, and all 


destroyed — " Men and women, children and sucklings, 
and oxen, and asses, and sheep." That is, Saul executed 
more complete vengeance on the descendants of Levi, 
the sacred tribe, than on the sinners, the Amalekites, who 
laid wait for Israel in the way, on their going up from 

Last of all, he finishes his bad history by an open act 
of apostacy from the God of Israel. His last act is like 
his first, but more significant. He began, as we saw, by 
consulting Samuel as a diviner : this showed the direction 
of his mind. It steadily persevered in its evil way — and 
he ends by consulting a professed sorceress at End or. 
The Philistines had assembled their hosts ; Saul's heart 
trembled greatly ; he had no advisers or comforters ; 
Samuel was dead ; the priests he had himself slain with 
the sword. He hoped by magic rites — which he had 
formerly denounced — to foresee the issue of the approach- 
ing battle. God meets him even in the cave of Satanic 
delusions — but as an antagonist : the reprobate king 
receives, by the mouth of dead Samuel, who had once 
anointed him, the news that he is to be "taken away in 
God's wrath " — that the Lord would deliver Israel, with 
him, into the hands of the Philistines ; and that on the 
morrow he and his sons should be numbered with the 
dead (i Sam. xxviii. 19). 

The next day " the battle went sore against him ; the 

SAUL. 41 

archers hit him, and he was sore wounded of the archers." 
" Anguish came upon him " (2 Sam. i. 9), and he feared 
to fall into the hands of the uncircumcised. He desired 
his armour-bearer to draw his sword and thrust him 
through therewith. On his refusing, he fell upon his own 
sword, and so came to his end. 

Unbelief and wilfulness are the wretched characteristics 
of Saul's history — an ear deaf to the plainest commands, 
a heart hardened against the most gracious influences. 
Do not suppose, because I speak thus strongly, I con- 
sider Saul's state of mind to be something very unusual. 
Let us only reflect on our hardness of heart, and we 
shall understand something of Saul's ambition when he 
prophesied. We may be conscious to ourselves of the 
truth of things sacred as entirely as if we saw them ; and 
yet we often feel in as ordinary and as unconcerned a 
mood as if we were altogether unbelievers. Again, let us 
reflect on our callousness after mercies received, or after 
suffering. We are often in worse case even than this : 
for to realize the unseen world in our imagination, and 
feel as if we saw it, may not always be in our power. 
What makes our insensibility still more alarming is, that 
it follows the grant of the highest privileges. There is 
something awful in this, if we understood it ; as if that 
peculiar hardness of heart which we experience, in spite 
of whatever excellences of character we may otherwise 


possess — like Saul, in spite of the benevolence, or fair- 
ness, or candour, or consideration, which are the virtues 
of this age — was the characteristic of a soul transgressing 
after it had " tasted the powers of the world to come," 
and an earnest of the second death. May this thought 
rouse us to a deeper seriousness than we have at present, 
while Christ continues to intercede for us, and grant us 
time for repentance J 


"\ 1 THEN Saul was finally rejected for not destroying the 
Amalekites, Samuel was bid go to Bethlehem, and 
anoint, as future king of Israel, one of the sons of Jesse, 
who should be pointed out to him when he was come there. 
Samuel accordingly went thither and made a sacrifice ; 
when, at his command, Jesse's seven sons were brought 
by their father, one by one, before the prophet ; but none 
of them proved to be the choice of Almighty God. 
David was the youngest and out of the way, and it 
seemed to Jesse as unlikely that God's choice should fall 
upon him, as it appeared to Joseph's brethren and to his 
father, that he and his mother and brethren should, as his 
dreams foretold, bow down before him. On Samuel's 
inquiring, Jesse said, " There remaineth yet the youngest, 
and, behold, he keepeth the sheep." On Samuel's 
bidding, he was sent for. "Now he was ruddy," the 
sacred historian proceeds, "and withal of a beautiful 
countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord 


said, Arise, anoint him, fof this is he." After Samuel 
had anointed him, " the Spirit of the Lord came upon 
David from that day forward." It is added, "But the 
Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul." 

David's anointing was followed by no other immediate 
mark of God's favour. He was tried by being sent back 
again, in spite of the promise, to the care of his sheep, 
till an unexpected occasion introduced him to Saul's 
court. The withdrawing of the Spirit of the Lord from 
Saul was followed by frequent attacks from an evil spirit, 
as a judgment upon him. His mind was depressed, and 
a " trouble," as it is called, came upon him, with symptoms 
very like those which we now refer to derangement. 
His servants thought that music, such perhaps as was 
used in the schools of the prophets, might soothe and 
restore him; and David was recommended by one of 
them for that purpose in the words of the text : " Behold, 
I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is 
cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man 
of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, 
and the Lord is with him." 

David came in the power of that sacred influence 
whom Saul had grieved and rejected. The Spirit which 
inspired his tongue guided his hand also, and his sacred 
songs became a medicine to Saul's diseased mind. 
" When the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, .... 


David took an harp, and played with his hand ; so Saul 
was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed 
from him." Thus he is first introduced to us in that 
character in which he still has praise in the Church, as 
" the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet 
psalmist of Israel." (2 Sam. xxiii. 1.) 

Saul " loved David greatly, and he became his armour- 
bearer ;" but the first trial of his humility and patience 
was not over, while many other trials were in store. 
After a while he was a second time sent back to his 
sheep ; and though there was war with the Philistines, , 
and his three eldest brethren were in the army with Saul, 
and he had already essayed his strength in defending his 
father's flocks from wild beasts, and was " a mighty 
valiant man," yet he contentedly stayed at home as a 
private person, keeping his promise of greatness to him- 
self, till his father bade him go to his brethren to take 
them a present from him, and report how they fared. 
An accident, as it appeared to the world, brought him 
forward. On his arrival at the army, he heard the 
challenge of the Philistine champion, Goliath of Gath. I 
need not relate how he was divinely urged to engage the 
giant, how he killed him, and how he was in consequence 
again raised to Saul's favour ; who, with an infirmity not 
inconsistent with the deranged state of his mind, seems to 
have altogether forgotten him. 


From this time began David's public life ; but not yet 
the fulfilment of the promise madj2 to him by Samuel. 
He had a second and severer trial of patience to endure 
for many years : the trial of " being still " and doing 
nothing before God's time, though he had (apparently) 
the means in his hands of accomplishing the promise for 
himself. It was to this trial that Jeroboam afterwards 
showed himsel/ unequal. He too was promised a king- 
dom, but he was tempted to seize upon it in his own 
way, and so forfeited God's protection. 

David's victory over Goliath so endeared him to Saul, 
that he would not let him go back to his father's house. 
Jonathan too, Saul's son, at once felt for him a warm 
affection, which deepened into a firm friendship. " Saul 
set him over the men of war ; and he was accepted in the 
sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's 
servants." (i Sam. xviii. 5.) This prosperous fortune, 
however, did not long continue. As Saul passed through 
the cities from his victory over his enemies, the women 
of Israel came out to meet him, singing and dancing, 
and they said, " Saul hath slain his thousands, and 
David his ten thousands." Immediately the jealous 
king was " very wroth, and the saying displeased 
him ;" his sullenness returned ; he feared David as a 
rival ; and " eyed him from that day and forward." 
On the morrow, as David was playing before him, as 


at other times, Saul threw his javelin at him. After this, 
Saul displaced him from his situation at his court, and 
sent him to the war, hoping so to rid himself of him 
by his falling in battle; but by God's blessing David 
returned victorious. 

In a second war with the Philistines, David was 
successful as before; and Saul, overcome with gloomy 
and malevolent passions, again cast at him with his 
javelin, as he played before him, with the hope of killing 

This repeated attempt on his life drove David from 
Saul's court ; and for some years after, that is, till Saul's 
death, he was a wanderer upon the earth, persecuted in 
that country which was afterwards to be his own king- 
dom. Here, as in his victory over Goliath, Almighty 
God purposed to show us, that it was His hand which 
set David on the throne of Israel. David conquered his 
enemy by a sling and stone, in order, as he said at the 
time, that all . . . might know " that the Lord saveth 
not with sword and spear ; for the battle is the Lord's." 
(i Sam. xvii. 47.) Now again, but in a different way, 
His guiding providence was displayed. As David slew 
Goliath without arms, so now he refrained himself and 
used them not, though he possessed them. Like 
Abraham he traversed the land of promise " as a strange 
land" (Heb. xi. 9), waiting for God's good time. Nay. 


"far more exactly, even than to Abraham, was it given to 
David to act and suffer that life of faith which the Apostle 
describes, and by which " the elders obtained a good 
report." By faith he wandered about, " being destitute, 
afflicted, evil-entreated, in deserts, and in mountains, 
and in dens, and in caves of the earth." On the other 
hand, through the same faith, he "subdued kingdoms, 
wrought righteousness, obtained promises, waxed valiant 
in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." 

On escaping from Saul, he first went to Samuel to ask 
his advice. With him he dwelt some time. Driven 
thence by Saul, he went to Bethlehem, his father's city, 
then to Ahimelech the high-priest, at Nob. Thence he 
fled, still through fear of Saul, to Achish, the Philistine 
king of Gath ; and finding his life in danger there, he 
escaped to Adullam, where he was joined by his kindred, 
and put himself at the head of an irregular band of men, 
such as, in the unsettled state of the country, might be 
usefully and lawfully employed against the remnant of 
the heathen. After this he was driven to Hareth, to 
Keilah, which he rescued from the Philistines, to the 
wilderness of Ziph among the mountains, to the wilder- 
ness of Maon, to the strongholds of Engedi, to the 
wilderness of Paran. After a time he again betook him 
self to Achish, king of Gath, who gave him a city ; and 
there it was that the news was brought him of the death 


of Saul in battle, which was the occasion of his elevation 
first to the throne of Judah, afterwards to that of all 
Israel, according to the promise of God made to him by- 

It need not be denied that, during these years of 
wandering, we find in David's conduct instances of in- 
firmity and inconsistency, and some things which, without 
being clearly wrong, are yet strange and startling in so 
favoured a servant of God. With these we are not 
concerned, except so far as a lesson may be gained from 
them for themselves. We are not at all concerned with 
them as regards our estimate of David's character. That 
character is ascertained and sealed by the plain word of 
Scripture, by the praise of Almighty God, and is no 
subject for our criticism ; and if we find in it traits which 
we cannot fully reconcile with the approbation divinely 
given to him, we must take it in faith to be what it is said 
to be, and wait for the future revelations of Him who 
' overcomes when He is judged." Therefore I dismiss 
these matters now, when I am engaged in exhibiting the 
eminent obedience and manifold virtues of David. On 
the whole, his situation, during these years of trial, was 
certainly that of a witness for Almighty God, one who 
does good and suffers for it, nay, suffers on rather than 
ri< 1 himself from suffering by any unlawful act. 

Now then let us consider what was, as far as we can 



understand, his especial grace, what is his gift ; as faith 
was Abraham's distinguishing virtue, meekness the excel- 
lence of Moses, self-mastery the gift especially conspi- 
cuous in Joseph. 

This question may best be answered by considering 
the purpose for which he was raised up. When Saul 
was disobedient, Samuel said to him, "Thy kingdom 
shall not continue : the Lord hath sought Him a 
man after His own heart, and the Lord hath com- 
manded him to be captain over His people, because 
thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded 
thee." (i Sam. xiii. 14.) The office to which first 
Saul and then David were called, was different from 
that with which other favoured men before them had 
been intrusted. From the time of Moses, when Israel 
became a nation, God had been the king of Israel, and 
His chosen servants, not delegates, but mere organs 
of His will. Moses did not direct the Israelites by his 
own wisdom, but he spake to them, as God spake from 
the pillar of the cloud. Joshua, again, was merely a 
sword in the hand of God. Samuel was but His minister 
and interpreter. God acted, the Israelites " stood still 
and saw " His miracles, then followed. But, when they 
had rejected Him from being king over them, then their 
chief ruler was no longer a mere organ of His power and 
vvill, but had a certain authority intrusted to him, more 

DAVID. 51 

or less independent of supernatural direction ; and acted, 
not so much from God, as for God, and in the place 
of God. David, when taken from the sheepfolds "to 
feed Jacob His people and Israel His inheritance," 
" fed them," in the words of the Psalm, " with a 
faithful and true heart ; and ruled them prudently 
with all his power." (Ps. lxxviii. 71-73.) From this 
account of his office, it is obvious that his very first 
duty was that of fidelity to Almighty God in the trust 
committed to him. He had power put into his hands, in 
a sense in which neither Moses had it, nor Samuel. 
He was charged with a certain office, which he was 
bound to administer according to his ability, so as best 
to promote the interests of Him who appointed him. 
Saul had neglected his Master's honour; but David, 
in this an eminent type of Christ, " came to do God's 
will " as a viceroy in Israel, and, as being tried and 
found faithful, he is especially called " a man after God's 
own heart." 

David's peculiar excellence then is that of fidelity to the 
trust committed to him; a firm, uncompromising, single- 
hearted devotion to the cause of his God, and a burning 
zeal for His honour. 

This characteristic virtue is especially illustrated in 
the early years of his life. He was tried therein and 
found faithful ; before he was put in power, it was 


proved whether he could obey. Till he came to the 
throne, he was like Moses or Samuel, an instrument 
in God's hands, bid do what was told him and nothing 
more; — having borne this trial of obedience well, in 
which Saul had failed, then at length he was intrusted 
with a sort of discretionary power, to use in his Master's 

Observe how David was tried, and what various high 
qualities of mind he displayed in the course of the trial. 
First, the promise of greatness was given him, and Samuel 
anointed him. Still he stayed in the sheepfolds; and 
though called away by Saul for a time, yet returned 
contentedly when Saul released him from attendance. 
How difficult it is for such as know they have gifts suit- 
able to the Church's need to refrain themselves till God 
makes a way for their use ! and the trial would be the 
more severe in David's case, in proportion to the ardour 
and energy of his mind; yet he fainted not under it. 
Afterwards for seven years, as the time appears to be, he 
withstood the strong temptation, ever before his eyes, of 
acting without God's guidance, when he had the means 
of doing so. Though skilful in arms, popular with his 
countrymen, successful against the enemy, the king's 
son-in-law, and on the other hand grievously injured by 
Saul, who not only continually sought his life, but even 
suggested to him a traitor's conduct by accusing hini 


of treason, and whose life was several times in his 
hands, yet he kept his honour pure and unimpeachable. 
He feared God and honoured the king ; and this at 
a time of life especially exposed to the temptations of 

There is a resemblance between the early history of 
David and that of Joseph. Both distinguished for piety 
in youth, the youngest and the despised of their respective 
brethren, they are raised, after a long trial, to a high 
station, as ministers of God's Providence. Joseph was 
tempted to a degrading adulter)- ; David was tempted by 
ambition. Both were tempted to be traitors to their 
masters and benefactors. Joseph's trial was brief; but 
his conduct under it evidenced settled habits of virtue which 
he could call to his aid at a moment's notice. A long 
imprisonment followed, the consequence of his obedience, 
and borne with meekness and patience ; but it was no 
part of his temptation, because, when once incurred, 
release was out of his power. David's trial, on the other 
hand, lasted for years, and grew stronger as time went on. 
His master too, far from " putting all that he had into 
his hand " (Genesis xxxix. 4), sought his life. Continual 
opportunity of avenging himself incited his passions; 
self-defence, and the divine promise, were specious argu- 
ments to seduce his reason. Yet he mastered his heart, 
— he was " still ;" — he kept his hands clean and his lips 


guileless, — he was loyal throughout, — and in due time 
inherited the promise. 

Let us call to mind some of the circumstances of his 
stedfastness recorded in the history. 

He was about twenty-three years old when he slew the 
Philistine ; yet, when placed over Saul's men of war, in 
the first transport of his victory, we are told he " behaved 
himself wisely." (i Sam. xviii. 5-30.) When fortune 
turned, and Saul became jealous of him, still "David 
behaved himself wisely in all his ways, and the Lord 
was with him." How like is this to Joseph under 
different circumstances ! " Wherefore, when Saul saw 
that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid 
of him ; and all Israel and Tudah loved David." Again, 
"And David behaved himself more wisely than all the 
servants of Saul, so that his name was much set by." 
Here in shifting fortunes is evidence of that staid, com- 
posed frame of mind in his youth, which he himself 
describes in the one hundred and thirty-first Psalm. 

" My heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty 

Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that 
is weaned of his mother." 

The same modest deportment marks his subsequent 
conduct. He consistently seeks counsel of God. When 
he fled from Saul he went to Samuel ; afterwards we find 
him following the directions of the prophet Gad, and 


afterwards of Abiathar the high priest, (i Sam. xxii. 5, 
20 ; xxiii. 6.) Here his character is in full contrast to 
the character of Saul. 

Further, consider his behaviour towards Saul when he 
had him in his power ; it displays a most striking and 
admirable union of simple faith and unblemished loyalty. 

Saul, while in pursuit of him, went into a cave in 
Engedi. David surprised him there, and his companions 
advised to seize him, if not to take his life. They said, 
"Behold the day of which the Lord said unto thee." 
(1 Sam. xxiv. 4.) David, in order to show Saul 
how entirely his life had been in his power, arose 
and cut off a part of his robe privately. After he 
had done it, his " heart smote him " even for this 
slight freedom, as if it were a disrespect offered 
towards his king and father. "He said unto his men. 
The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto 
my master, the Lord's anointed, to stretch forth mine 
hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord." 
When Saul left the cave, David followed him and cried, 
" My Lord the king. And when Saul looked behind 
him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed 
himself." He hoped that he could now convince Saul of 
his integrity. " Wherefore hearest thou men's words," he 
asked, " saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt ? Be- 
hold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the Lord had 


delivered thee to-day into mine hand in the cave : and 
some bade me kill thee .... Moreover, my father, see, 
yea see the skirt of thy robe in my hand : for in that I 
cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know 
thou and see, that there is neither evil nor transgression 
in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee : yet 
thou huntest my soul to take it. The Lord judge between 
me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee : but mine 

hand shall not be upon thee After whom is 

the king of Israel come out ? after whom dost thou 
pursue ? after a dead dog, after a flea. The Lord there- 
fore judge .... and see, and plead my cause, and 
deliver me out of thine hand." Saul was for the time 
overcome ; he said, " Is this thy voice, my son David ? 
and Saul lifted up his voice and wept." And he said, 
" Thou art more righteous than I ; for thou hast rewarded 
me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil." He 
added, "And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt 
surely be king." At another time David surprised Saul in 
the midst of his camp, and his companion would have 
killed him ; but he said, " Destroy him not, for who can 
stretch forth his hand against the Lord's anointed and 
be guiltless ?" (i Sam. xxvi. 9.) Then, as he stood 
over him, he meditated sorrowfully on his master's 
future fortunes, while he himself refrained from in- 
terfering with God's purposes. •' Surely the Lord shall 


smite him ; or his day shall come to die ; or he shall 
descend into battle and perish." David retired from 
the enemy's camp; and when at a safe distance, 
roused Saul's guards, and blamed them for their negli- 
gent watch, which had allowed a stranger to ap- 
proach the person of their king. Saul was moved the 
second time ; the miserable man, as if waking from a 
dream which hung about him, said, " I have sinned ; 

return, my son David behold, I have played 

the fool, and have erred exceedingly." He added, truth 
overcoming him, " Blessed be thou, my son David : thou 
shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail." 

How beautiful are these passages in the history of the 
chosen king of Israel ! How do they draw our hearts 
towards him, as one whom in his private character it 
must have been an extreme privilege and a great delight 
to know ! Surely the blessings of the patriarchs de- 
scended in a united flood upon " the lion of the tribe of 
Judah," the type of the true Redeemer who was to come. 
He inherits the prompt faith and magnanimity of Abra- 
ham ; he is simple as Isaac ; he is humble as Jacob ; he 
has the youthful wisdom and self-possession, the tender- 
ness, the affectionateness, and the firmness of Joseph. 
And, as Iris own especial gift, he has an overflowing 
thankfulness, an ever-burning devotion, a zealous fidelity 
to his God, a high unshaken loyalty towards his king, an 


; 1 1 . — 

heroic bearing in all circumstances, such as the multitude 
of men see to be great, but cannot understand. Be it 
our blessedness, unless the wish be presumptuous, so 
to acquit ourselves in troubled times ; cheerful amid 
anxieties, collected in dangers, generous towards enemies, 
patient in pain and sorrow, subdued in good fortune ! 
How manifold are the ways of the Spirit, how various the 
graces which He imparts ; what depth and width is there 
in that moral truth and virtue for which we are created ! 
Contrast one with another the Scripture saints ! how 
different are they, yet how alike ! how fitted for their 
respective circumstances, yet how unearthly, how settled 
and composed in the faith and fear of God ! As in the 
services, so in the patterns of the Church, God has met 
all our needs, all our frames of mind. " Is any afflicted ? 
let him pray; is any merry? let him sing psalms." 
(James v. 13.) Is any in joy or in sorrow? there 
are saints at hand to encourage and guide him. There 
is Abraham for nobles, Job for men of wealth and 
merchandise, Moses for patriots, Samuel for rulers, 
Elijah for reformers, Joseph for those who rise into 
distinction; there is Daniel for the forlorn, Jeremiah 
for the persecuted, Hannah for the downcast, Ruth for 
the friendless, the Shunammite for the matron, Caleb for 
the soldier, Boaz for the farmer, Mephibosheth for the 
subject ; but none is vouchsafed to us in more varied 


lights, and with more abundant and more affecting 
lessons, whether in his history or in his writings, than 
he who is described as cunning in playing, and a mighty 
valiant man, and prudent in matters, and comely in 
person, and favoured by Almighty God. 


T7 VERY season of Paul's life is full of wonders, and 
admits of a separate commemoration; which 
indeed we do make whenever we read the Acts of the 
Apostles or his Epistles. 

We cannot well forget the manner of his conversion. 
He was journeying to Damascus with authority from the 
chief priests to seize the Christians, and bring them to 
Jerusalem. He had sided with the persecuting party 
from their first act of violence, the martyrdom of St. 
Stephen ; and he continued foremost in a bad cause, 
with blind rage endeavouring to defeat what really was the 
work of Divine power and wisdom. In the midst of his 
fury he was struck down by miracle, and converted to the 
faith he persecuted. Observe the circumstances of the 
case. When the blood of Stephen was shed, Saul, then 
a young man, was standing by, "consenting unto his 
death," and " kept the raiment of them that slew him." 

ST. PAUL. 6l 

(Acts xxii. 20.) Two speeches are recorded of the Martyr 
in his last moments ; one, in which he prayed that God 
would pardon his murderers, — the other his witness that 
he saw the heavens opened, and Jesus on God's right 
hand. His prayer was wonderfully answered. Stephen 
saw his Saviour ; the next vision of that Saviour to mortal 
man was vouchsafed to the very young man, even Saul, 
who shared in his murder and his intercession. 

Strange, indeed, it was; and what would have been 
St. Stephen's thoughts could he have known it ! The 
prayers of righteous men avail much. The first martyr 
had power with God to raise up the greatest apostle. 
Such was the honour put upon the first fruits of those 
sufferings upon which the Church was entering. Thus 
from the beginning the blood of the martyrs was the seed 
of the Church. Stephen, one man, was put to death for 
saying that the Jewish people were to have exclusive 
privileges no longer ; but from his very grave rose the 
favoured instrument by whom the thousands and ten 
thousands of the Gentiles were brought to the knowledge 
of the truth ! 

Herein then, first, is St. Paul's conversion memorable ; 
that it was a triumph over the enemy. When Almighty 
God would convert the world, opening the door of failh 
to the Gentiles, who was the chosen preacher of His 
mercy ? Not one of Christ's first followers. To show 


His power, He put forth his hand into the very midst of 
the persecutors of His Son, and seized upon the most 
strenuous among them. The prayer of a dying man is 
the token and occasion of his triumph which He had 
reserved for Himself. His strength is made perfect 
in weakness. As of old, He broke the yoke of His 
people's burden, the staff of their shoulder, the rod 
of their oppressor. (Isa. ix. 4.) Saul made furiously 
for Damascus, but the Lord Almighty " knew his abode, 
and his going out and coming in, and his rage against 
Him," and " because his rage against Him, and his 
tumult came up before Him," therefore, as in Senna- 
cherib's case, though in a far different way, He " put 
His hook in his nose and His bridle in his lips, and 
turned him back by the way by which he came." 
(Isa. xxxvii. 28, 29.) " He spoiled principalities and 
powers, and made a show of them openly" (Col. ii. 15), 
triumphing over the serpent's head while his heel was 
wounded. Saul, the persecutor, was converted, and 
preached Christ in the synagogues. 

In the next place, St. Paul's conversion may be consi- 
dered as a suitable introduction to the office he was called 
to execute in God's providence. I have said it was a 
triumph over the enemies of Christ ; but it was also an 
expressive emblem of the nature of God's general 
dealings with the race of man. What are we all but 

ST. PAUL. 63 

rebels against God, and enemies of the Truth? What 
were the Gentiles in particular at that time, but " alien- 
ated " from Him, " and enemies in their mind by wicked 
works?" (Col. i. 21.) Who then could so appropriately 
fulfil the purpose of Him who came to call sinners 
to repentance, as one who esteemed himself the least 
of the apostles, that was not meet to be called an 
Apostle, because he had persecuted the Church of 
God? When Almighty God in His infinite mercy 
purposed to form a people to Himself out of the 
heathen, as vessels for glory, first He chose the in- 
strument of this His purpose, as a brand from the 
burning, to be a type of the rest. There is a parallel 
to this order of Providence in the Old Testament. The 
Jews were bid to look unto the rock whence they were 
hewn. (Isa. li. 1.) Who was the especial patriarch of 
their nation? — Jacob. Abraham himself, indeed, had been 
called and blessed by God's mere grace. Yet Abraham 
had remarkable faith. Jacob, however, the immediate 
and peculiar patriarch of the Jewish race, is represented 
in the character of a sinner, pardoned and reclaimed by 
Divine mercy, a wanderer exalted to be the father of a 
great nation. Now I am not venturing to describe him 
as he really was, but as he is represented to us ; not per- 
sonally, but in that particular point of view in which the 
sacred history has placed him ; not as an individual, but 


as he is typically, or in the way of doctrine. There 
is no mistaking the marks of his character and fortunes 
in the history, designedly (as it would seem) recorded 
to humble Jewish pride. He makes his own confession 
as St. Paul afterwards : " I am not worthy of the 
least of all Thy mercies." (Gen. xxxii. 10.) Every 
year, too, the Israelites were bid bring their offering, 
and avow before God that " a Syrian ready to perish 
was their father." (Deut. xxvi. 5.) Such as was the 
father, such (it was reasonable to suppose) would be 
the descendants. None would be " greater than their 
father Jacob." (John iv. 12.) for whose sake the nation 
was blest. 

In like manner St. Paul is, in one way of viewing the 
dispensation, the spiritual father of the Gentiles ; and 
in the history of his sin and its most gracious forgiveness, 
he exemplifies far more than his brother apostles his 
own Gospel ; that we are all guilty before God, and can 
be saved only by His free bounty. In his own words, 
" for this cause obtained he mercy, that in him first Jesus 
Christ might show forth all long-suffering for a pattern to 
them which should hereafter believe on Him to life ever- 
lasting." (1 Tim. i. 16.) 

And in the next place, St. Paul's previous course of 
life rendered him, perhaps, after his conversion, more fit 
an instrument of God's purposes towards the Gentiles, as 

ST. PAUL. 65 

well as a more striking specimen of it Here it is 
necessary to speak with caution. We know that, what- 
ever were St. Paul's successes in the propagation of the 
Gospel, they were in their source and nature not his, but 
through " the grace of God which was with him." Still, 
God makes use of human means, and it is allowable to 
inquire reverently what these were, and why St. Paul was 
employed to convert the heathen world rather than St. 
James the Less, or St. John. Doubtless his intellectual 
endowments and acquirements were among the circum- 
stances which fitted him for his office. Yet, may it not 
be supposed that there, was something in his previous 
religious history which especially disciplined him to be 
" all things to all men ?" Nothing is so difficult as to 
enter into the characters and feelings of men who have 
been brought up under a system of religion different from 
our own ; and to discern how they may be most forcibly 
and profitably addressed, in order to win them over to 
the reception of Divine truths, of which they are at 
present ignorant. Now St. Paul had had experience in 
his own case of a state of mind very different from that 
which belonged to him as an apostle. Though he had 
never been polluted with heathen immorality and pro- 
faneness, he had entertained views and sentiments very 
tar from Christian ; and had experienced a conversion to 
which the other apostles (as far as we know) were 



strangers. I am far indeed from meaning that there is 
ought favourable to a man's after religion in an actual 
unsettling of principle, in lapsing into infidelity, and then 
returning again to religious belief. This was not St. 
Paul's case ; he underwent no radical change of religious 
principle. Much less would I give countenance to the 
notion, that a previous immoral life is other than a 
grievous permanent hindrance and a curse to a man after 
he has turned to God. Such considerations, however, 
are out of place in speaking of St. Paul. What I mean 
is, that his awful rashness and blindness, his self-confident, 
headstrong, cruel rage, against the worshippers of the 
true Messiah, then his strange conversion, then the length 
of time that elapsed before his solemn ordination, during 
which he was left to meditate in private on all that had 
happened, and to anticipate the future, all this constituted 
a peculiar preparation for the office of preaching to a lost 
world, dead in sin. It gave him an extended insight, on 
the one hand, into the ways and designs of Providence, 
and on the other hand into the workings of sin in the 
human heart, and the various modes of thinking to which 
the mind may be trained. It taught him not to despair 
of the worst sinners, to be sharp-sighted in detecting the 
sparks of faith amid corrupt habits of life, and to enter 
into the various temptations to which human nature is 
exposed. It wrought in him a profound humility, which 

ST. PAUL. 67 

disposed him (if we may say so) to bear meekly the 
abundance of the revelations given him ; and it imparted 
to him a practical wisdom how to apply them to the con- 
version of others, so as to be weak with the weak, and 
strong with the strong, to bear their burdens, to instruct 
and encourage them, to " strengthen his brethren," to 
rejoice and weep with them, in a word, to be an earthly 
Paraclete, the comforter, help, and guide of his brethren. 
It gave him to know in some good measure the hearts of 
men ; an attribute (in its fulness) belonging to God alone, 
and possessed by Him in union with perfect purity from 
all sin ; but which in us can scarcely exist without our 
own melancholy experience, in some degree, of moral evil 
in ourselves, since the innocent (it is their privilege) 
have not eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and 

Lastly, to guard against misconception of these last 
remarks, I must speak distinctly on a part of the subject 
only touched upon hitherto, viz., on St, Paul's spiritual 
state before his conversion. For, in spite of what has 
been said by way of caution, perhaps I may still be 
supposed to warrant the maxim sometimes maintained, 
that the greater sinner makes the greater saint. 

Now, observe, I do not allege that St. Paul's previous 
sins made him a more spiritual Christian afterwards, but 
rendered him more fitted for a particular purpose in God's 


providence, — more fitted, when converted, to reclaim 
others; just as a knowledge of languages (whether 
divinely or humanly acquired) fits a man for the office of 
missionary, without tending in any degree to make him a 
better man. I merely say, that if we take two men 
equally advanced in faith and holiness, that one of the two 
would preach to a variety of men with the greater success 
who had the greater experience in his own religious 
history of temptation, the war of flesh and spirit, sin, and 
victory over sin ; though at the same time, at first sight 
it is of course unlikely that he who had experienced all 
these changes of mind should be equal in faith and 
obedience to the other who had served God from a child. 

But, in the next place, let us observe, how very far St 
Paul's conversion is, in matter of fact, from holding out 
any encouragement to those who live in sin, or any self- 
satisfaction to those who have lived in it; as if their 
present or former disobedience could be a gain to them. 

Why was mercy shown to Saul the persecutor ? He him- 
self gives us the reason, which we may safely make use 
of. " I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in 
unbelief." (i Tim. i. 12, 13.) And why was he 
" enabled " to preach the Gospel ? " Because Christ 
counted him faithful." We have here the reason more 
clearly stated even than in Abraham's case, who was 
honoured with special Divine revelations, and promised 

ST. PAUL. 69 

a name on the earth, because God " knew him, that he 

would command his children and his household after 

him, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and 

judgment." (Gen. xviii. 19.) Saul was ever faithful, 

according to his notion of "the way of the Lord." 
Doubtless he sinned deeply and grievously in persecuting 
the followers of Christ Had he known the Holy Scrip- 
tures, he never would have done so ; he would have recog- 
nized Jesus to be the promised Saviour, as Simeon and 
Anna had, from the first. But he was bred up in a human 
school, and paid more attention to the writings of men 
than to the word of God. Still, observe, he differed 
from other enemies of Christ in this, that he kept a clear 
conscience, and habitually obeyed God according to his 
knowledge. God speaks to us in two ways, in our hearts 
and in His word. The latter and clearer of these in- 
formants St Paul knew little of; the former he could not 
but know in his measure (for it was within him), and he 
obeyed it. That inward voice was but feeble, mixed up 
and obscured with human feelings and human traditions ; 
so that what his conscience told him to do, was but 
partially true, and in part was wrong. Yet still, believing 
it to speak God's will, he deferred to it, acting as he did 
aftenvards when he " was not disobedient to the heavenly 
vision," which informed him Jesus was the Christ. 
(Acts xxvi. 19.) Hear his own account of himself; 


" I have lived in all good conscience before God until 
this day." " After the most straitest sect of our religion, 
I lived a Pharisee." "Touching the righteousness 
which is in the Law, blameless." (Acts xxiii. i ; xxvi. 5. 
Phil. iii. 6.) Here is no ease, no self-indulgent habits, no 
wilful sin against the light, — nay, I will say no pride. 
That is, though he was doubtless influenced by much 
sinful self-confidence, in his violent and bigoted hatred of 
the Christians, and though (as well as even the best of 
us) he was doubtless liable to the occasional temptations 
and defilements of pride, yet, taking pride to mean open 
rebellion against God, warring against God's authority, 
setting up reason against God, this he had not. He 
" verily thought within himself that he ought to do many 
things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth." Turn 
to the case of Jews and Gentiles who remained uncon- 
verted, and you will see the difference between them and 
him. Think of the hypocritical Pharisees, who professed 
to be saints, and were sinners ; " full of extortion, excess, 
and uncleanness (Matt, xxiii. 25, 27) f believing Jesus 
to be the Christ, but not confessing Him, as " loving 
the praise of men more than the praise of God." 
(John xii. 43.) St. Paul himself gives us an account 
of them in the second chapter of his Epistle to the 
Romans. Can it be made to apply to his own previous 
state? Was the name of God blasphemed among the 

ST. PAUL. 71 

Gentiles through him ? — On the other hand, the Gentile 
reasoners sought a vain wisdom. (1 Cor. i. 22.) These 
were they who despised religion and practical morality 
as common matters, unworthy the occupation of a 
refined and cultivated intellect. " Some mocked, 
others said, We will hear thee again of this matter." 
(Acts xvii. 32.) They prided themselves on being 
above vulgar prejudices, — in being indifferent to the 
traditions afloat in the world about another life, — in 
regarding all religions as equally true and equally false. 
Such a hard, vain-glorious temper our Lord solemnly 
condemns, when he says to the Church at Laodicea, " I 
would thou wert cold or hot." 

The Pharisees, then, were breakers of the Law ; the 
Gentile reasoners and statesmen were infidels. Both were 
proud, both despised the voice of conscience. We see, 
then, from this review, the kind of sin which God pities 
and pardons. All sin, indeed, when repented of, He will 
put away ; but pride hardens the heart against repentance 
and sensuality debases it to a brutal nature. The Holy 
Spirit is quenched by open transgressions cf conscience 
and contempt of His authority. But, when men err in 
ignorance, following closely their own notions of right 
and wrong, though these notions are mistaken, — great as 
is their sin, if they might have possessed themselves of 
truer notions — (and very great as was St. Paul's sin, 


because he certainly might have learned from the Old 
Testament far clearer and diviner doctrine than the tradi- 
tion of the Pharisees), yet such men are not left by the 
God of all grace. God leads them on to the light, in 
spite of their errors in faith, if they continue strictly to 
obey what they believe to be His will. And, to declare 
this comfortable truth to us, St. Paul was thus carried on 
by the Providence of God, and brought into the light by 
miracle, that we may learn, by a memorable instance of 
His grace, what He ever does, though He does not in 
ordinary cases thus declare it openly to the world. 


A HERMIT'S life — that is, a strictly monastic or 
solitary life — may be called unnatural, and is not 
sanctioned by the Gospel. Christ sent His Apostles by 
two and two ; and surely He knew what was in man 
from the day that He said, " It is not good for him to be 
alone." So far, then, Antony's manner of life may be 
said to have no claim upon our admiration ; but this 
part of his pattern did not extend to his imitators, who 
by their numbers were soon led to the formation of 
monastic societies, and who, after a while, entangled 
even Antony himself in the tie of becoming in a certain 
sense their religious head and teacher. Monachism 
consisting, not in solitariness, but in austerities, prayers, 
retirement, and obedience, had nothing in it, so far, but 
what was perfectly Christian, and, under circumstances, 
exemplary ; especially when viewed in its connection with 
the relative duties, which were soon afterwards appro- 
priated to it, of being almoner to the poor, educating the 


clergy, and defending the faith as delivered to us. 
Monachism became, in a little time, nothing else than 
a peculiar department of the Christian ministry — a mi- 
nistry not of the sacraments, or clerical, but especially of 
the word and doctrine ; not indeed by any formal ordi- 
nation to it, for it was as yet a lay profession, but by 
the common right, or rather duty, which attaches to all 
of us to avow, propagate, and defend the truth, especially 
when our devotion to it has the countenance and en- 
couragement of Church authorities. 

St. Antony's life, written by his friend the great 
Athanasius, has come down to us. Some critics, indeed, 
doubt its genuineness, and consider it interpolated. I 
conceive no question can be raised about its substantial 
accuracy ; and on rising from the perusal of it, we are 
able to pronounce Antony an extraordinary man. En- 
thusiastic he certainly must be accounted ; had he lived 
in this day and in this country, he would have been 
exposed to a considerable (though of course not in- 
superable) temptation to become a sectarian. Panting 
after some higher rule of life than that which the or- 
dinary forms of society admit of, and finding our present 
lines too rigidly drawn to include any style of mind that 
is out-of-the-way, any rule that is not " gentlemanlike," 
•' comfortable," and " established," he might possibly 
have broken what he could not bend. The question is 


not whether he would have been justified in so doing 
(of course not) ; nor whether the most angelic temper of 
all is not that which settles down content with what is 
everyday (as Abraham's heavenly guests eat of the calf 
which he had dressed, and as our Saviour went down to 
Nazareth, and was subject to his parents) ; but whether 
such resignation to worldly comforts is not quite as often 
at least the characteristic of a grovelling mind also, 
— whether there are not minds between the lowest and 
the highest of ardent feelings, keen imaginations, and 
undisciplined tempers, who are under a strong irritation 
prompting them to run wild, — whether it is not our duty 
(so to speak) to play with such, carefully letting out line 
lest they snap it ; and whether our established system is 
as indulgent and as wise as is desirable in its treatment of 
such persons, inasmuch as it provides no occupation for 
them, does not understand how to turn them to account, 
lets them run to waste, tempts them to schism, loses 
them, and is weakened by the loss. For instance, had 
we some regular missionary seminary, such an institu- 
tion would in one way supply the deficiency I speak of. 

As for Antony : did I see him before me, I might be 
tempted to consider him somewhat of an enthusiast ; but 
what I desire to point out to the reader is the subdued 
and Christian form which his enthusiasm took. It was 
not vulgar, bustling, imbecile, unstable, undutiful ; it was 


calm and composed, manly, intrepid, magnanimous, full 
of affectionate loyalty to the Church and to the Truth. 
Antony was born a.d. 251, while Origenwas still alive; 
tv,* .while Cyprian was Bishop of Carthage ; Dionysius, 
Bishop of Alexandria ; and Gregory Thaumaturgus, of 
Neocaesarea : he lived till a.d. 335, to the age of 105, 
nine years after the birth of St Chrysostom, and two 
years after that of St. Augustine. He was an Egyptian 
by birth, and the son of noble, opulent, and Christian 
parents. He was brought up as a Christian, and from 
his boyhood showed a strong disposition towards a 
solitary life. Shrinking from the society of his equals, 
and despising the external woild in comparison of the 
world within him, he set himself against what is con- 
sidered a liberal education — that is, the acquisition of 
foreign languages. At the same time he was very 
dutiful to his parents, simple and self-denying in his 
habits, and attentive to the sacred services and readings 
of the Church. 

Before he arrived at man's estate, he had lost both his 
parents, and was left with a sister, who was a child, and 
an ample inheritance. His mind at this time was 
earnestly set upon imitating the Apostles and their con- 
verts, who gave up their possessions and followed Christ. 
One day, about six months after his parents' death, as he 
went to church, as usual, the subject pressed seriously 


upon him. The gospel of the day happened to contain 
the text, " If thou wilt be perfect, go sell all that thou 
hast," &c. Antony applied it to himself, and acted upon 
it. He had three hundred acres, of especial fertility 
even in Egypt ; these he at once made over to the use 
of the poor of his own neighbourhood. Next, he turned 
into money all his personal property, and reserving a 
portion for his sister's use, gave the rest to the poor. 
After which he was struck by hearing in church the text — 
" Take no thought for the morrow f and, considering he 
had not yet fully satisfied the evangelical precept, he 
gave away what he had reserved, placing his sister in the 
care of some trustworthy female acquaintances, who had 
devoted themselves to a single life. 

He commenced his ascetic life, according to the 
custom hitherto observed, by retiring to a place not far 
from his own home. Here he remained for a while, to 
steady and fix his mind in his new habits, and to gain 
what advice he could towards the formation of them, 
from such as had already engaged in them. This is a 
remarkable trait, as Athanasius records it as showing 
how little he was influenced by self-will or sectarian 
spirit in what he was doing ; how ardently he pursued an 
ascetic life as in itself good, and how willing he was to 
become the servant of any who might give him directions 
in his pursuit 


After a while, our youth's enthusiasm began to take its 
usual course. His spirits fell, his courage nagged ; a 
reaction followed, and the temptations of this world 
assaulted him with a violence which showed that as yet 
he scarcely understood the true meaning of his profes- 
sion. Had he been nothing more than an enthusiast, he 
would have gone back to the world. His abandoned 
property, the guardianship of his sister, his family con- 
nections, the conveniences of wealth, worldly reputation, 
disgust of the sameness and coarseness of his food, bodily 
infirmity, the tediousness of his mode of living, and the 
paiufulness of idleness, became instruments of tempta- 
tion. And other and fiercer assaults arose. However, 
his faith rose above them all, or rather as Athanasius 
says : " not himself, but the grace of God that was in 

Such a life Antony lived for about fifteen years. At the 
end of this time, being now thirty-five, he betook himself 
to the desert, having first spent some days in prayers and 
holy exercises in the tombs. There, however, we are 
necessarily introduced to another subject — his alleged 
conflicts with the evil spirits. 

It is quite certain that Antony believed himself to be 
subjected to sensible and visible conflicts with evil spirits. 
It is far from my desire to rescue him from the imputa- 
tion of enthusiasm ; the very drift of my account of him 


being to show how enthusiasm is sobered and refined by 
being submitted to the discipline of the Church, instead 
of being allowed to run wild externally to it. If he 
were not an enthusiast, or in danger of being such, we 
should lose one chief instruction his life conveys. This 
admission, however, does not settle the question to which 
the narrative of his spiritual conflicts gives rise. The 
following is the account of his visit to the tombs : — 

" Thus bracing himself after the pattern of Elias, he set 
off to the tombs, which were some distance from his 
village j and, giving directions to an acquaintance to 
bring him bread after some days' interval, he entered 
into one of them, suffered himself to be shut in, and 
remained there by himself. This the enemy not en- 
during, yea rather dreading, lest before long he should 
engross the desert also with his holy exercise, assaulted 
him one night with a host of spirits, and so lashed him, 
that he lay speechless on the ground from the torture, 
which he declared was far more severe than from strokes 
which man could inflict. But, by God's providence, 
who does not overlook those who hope in Him, on 
the next day his acquaintance came with the bread, 
and, on opening the door, saw him lying on the 
ground, as if dead. Whereupon he carried him to 
the village church, and laid him on the ground ; and 
many of his relations and the villagers took their place3 


by the body, as if he were already dead. However, 
about midnight his senses returned, and, collecting him- 
self, he observed that they were all asleep except his 
aforesaid acquaintance ; whereupon he beckoned him to 
his side, and asked him, without waking any of them, to 
carry him back again to the tombs. 

" The man took him back ; and when he was shut in, 
as before, by himself, being unable to stand from his 
wounds, he lay down and began to pray. Then he cried 
out loudly, ' Here am I, Antony ; I do not shun your 
blows. Though ye add to them, yet nothing shall 
separate me from the love of Christ.' And then he 
began to sing, ' Though a host should encamp against 
me, yet shall not my heart be afraid.' The devil has no 
trouble in devising divers shapes of evil. During the 
night, therefore, the Evil One made so great a tumult 
that the whole place seemed to be shaken, and, as if they 
broke down the four walls of the building, they seemed 

to rush in, in the form of wild beasts and reptiles 

But Antony, though scourged and pierced, felt indeed 
his bodily pain, but the rather kept vigil in his soul. So, 
as he lay groaning in body, yet a watcher in his mind, he 
spoke in taunt, ' Had ye any power, one of you would 
be enough to assail me ; you try, if possible, to frighten 
me with your number, because the Lord has spoiled you 
of your strength. Those pretended forms are the proof 


of your impotence. Our seal and wall of defence is faith 
in the Lord.' After many attempts, then, they gnashed 
their teeth at him, because they were rather making 
themselves a sport than him. But the Lord a second 
time remembered the conflict of Antony, and came to his 
help. Raising his eyes, he saw the roof as if opening, 
and a beam of light descending towards him ; suddenly 
the devils vanished, his pain ceased, and the building was 
whole again. Upon this Antony said, ' Where art thou. 
Lord ? Why didst thou not appear at the first, to ease 
my pain? 1 A voice answered, 'Antony, I was here, but 
waited to see thy bearing of the contest. Since, then, 
thou hast sustained and not been worsted, I will be to 
thee an aid for ever, and will make thy name famous in 
every place.' " 

After this preliminary vigil Antony made for the desert, 
where he spent the next twenty years in solitude. To 
enter into the state of opinion and feeling which the ac- 
counts of his life there imply, it is necessary to observe, that 
as regards the Church's warfare with the devil, the primitive 
Christians considered themselves to be similarly circum- 
stanced with the Apostles. They did not draw a line 
between the condition of the Church in their day and in 
the first age, but believed that what it had been, such it 
was still in its trials and in its powers ; that the open 
assaults of Satan, and their own means of repelling them, 



were such as they are described in the Gospels. Exor- 
cism was a sacred function in the primitive Church, and 
the energumen took his place with catechumens and 
penitents, as in the number of those who had the especial 
prayers, and were allowed some of the privileges of the 
Christian body. Our Saviour speaks of the power of 
exorcising as depending on fasting and prayer, in certain 
special cases, and thus seems to countenance the notion 
of a direct conflict between the Christian athlete and the 
powers of evil, a conflict carried on by definite weapons, 
for definite ends, and not that indirect warfare merely 
which the religious conduct of life implies. " This kind 
can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting." 
Surely none of Christ's words are chance words : He 
spoke with a purpose, and the Holy Spirit guided the 
Evangelists in their selection of them, with a purpose; 
and if so, this text is a rule and an admonition, and was 
acted upon as such by the primitive Christians, whether 
from their received principles of interpretation, or the 
traditional practice of the Church. 

In like manner, whether from their mode of interpreting 
Scripture or from the opinions and practices which came 
down to them, they conceived the devil to have that 
power over certain brute animals which Scripture some- 
times assigns to him. He is known on one memorable 
occasion to have taken the form of a serpent ; at another 


time, a legion of devils possessed a herd of swine. These 
instances may, for what we know, be revealed specimens 
of a whole side of the Divine dispensation, viz., the 
interference of spiritual agencies, good or bad, with the 
course of the world, under which, perhaps, the speaking 
of Balaam's ass falls ; and the early Christians, whether 
so understanding Scripture, or from their traditionary 
system, acted as if they were so. They considered that 
brute nature was widely subject to the power of spirits ; 
as, on the other hand, there had been a time when even 
the Creator Spirit had condescended to manifest Himself 
in the bodily form of a dove. Their notions concerning 
local demoniacal influences in oracles and idols, in 
which they were sanctioned by Scripture, confirmed this 

belief. When, then, we read of Antony's 

sensible contests with the powers of evil, the abstract 
possibility of these is to be decided by the existence, 
in his day, of such parallel facts as demoniacal posses- 
sions, which certainly are witnessed unanimously by 
his contemporaries ; and the really superhuman cha- 
racter of what seemed like natural occurrences is to 
be estimated, not by the mere circumstance that they 
may be brought under natural laws, as demoniacal pos- 
sessions also may be by the physician, but by the known 
actual presence of unseen agents to which they may be 
referred. Antony's conflict in the tombs may be solved 


into a dream, or an attack from jackals ; yet this only 
removes the real agent a step further back. Satan may 
still have been the real agent at bottom, and have been 
discerned by Antony through the shadow of things 

These things being considered, I judge of Antony's 
life thus : there may be enthusiasm here ; there may 
be, at times, exaggerations and misconceptions of what, 
as they really happened, meant nothing. And still it may 
be true that that conflict begun by our Lord, when He 
was interrogated and assaulted by Satan, was continued 
in the experience of Antony, who lived not so very long 
after Him. How far the evil spirit acted, how far he was 
present in natural objects, how far was dream, how far 
fancy, is little to the purpose. I see, anyhow, the root 
of a great truth here, and think that those are wiser who 
admit something than those who deny all. I see Satan 
frightened at the invasions of the Church upon his king- 
dom ; I see him retreating step by step ; I see him dis- 
possessed by fasting and prayer, as was predicted; and 
I see him doing his utmost in whatever way to resist. 
Nor is there anything uncongenial to the Gospel system 
that so direct a war should be waged upon him ; a war 
without the ordinary duties of life and of society for its 
subject-matter and instruments. Our Saviour Himself 
was forty days in the wilderness, and St. Paul in prison, 

St. Peter at Joppa, and St. John at Patmos, show that 
social duties may be providentially suspended under the 
Gospel, and a direct intercourse with the next world be 
imposed upon the Christian. And if so much be allowed, 
certainly there is nothing in Antony's life to make us 
suspicious of him personally. His doctrine was pure 
and unimpeachable ; and his temper is high and heavenly 
— without cowardice, without gloom, without formality, 
and without self-complacency. Superstition is abject 
and crouching, it is full of thoughts of guilt ; it distrusts 
God, and dreads the powers of evil. Antony at least has 
nothing of this, being full of holy confidence, divine 
peace, cheerfulness and valorousness, be he (as some 
men may judge) ever so much an enthusiast. 


A RIUS first published his heresy about the year 319. 
It is said that on the death of Achillas, he had 
aspired to the primacy of the Egyptian Church; and, 
according to Philostorgios, the historian of his party, a 
writer of little credit, he had generously resigned his 
claims in favour of Alexander, who was elected. His 
ambitious character renders it not improbable that he 
was a candidate for the vacant dignity; but the difference 
of age between himself and Alexander, which must have 
been considerable, at once accounts for the elevation 
of the latter, and it is an evidence of the indecency 
of Arius in becoming a competitor at all. His first 
attack on the Catholic doctrine was conducted with 
an openness which, considering the general duplicity of 
his party, is the most honourable trait in his character. 
In a public meeting of the clergy of Alexandria, he 
accused his diocesan of Sabellianism ; an insult which 
Alexander, from deference to the talents and learning 


of the objector, sustained with somewhat too little of the 
dignity befitting the " Ruler of the People." The mis- 
chief which ensued from his misplaced weakness, was 
considerable. Arius was one of the public preachers of 
Alexandria ; and, as some suppose, Master of the Cate- 
chetical School. Others of the city Presbyters were 
stimulated by his example to similar irregularities. Col- 
luthus, Carponas, and Sarmatas, began to form each his 
own party, in a church which Meletius had already 
troubled; and Colluthus went so far as to promulgate 
an heretical doctrine and to found a sect. Still hoping to 
settle these disorders without the exercise of his episcopal 
power, Alexander summoned a meeting of his clergy, in 
which Arius was allowed to state his doctrines freely, 
and to argue in their defence ; and, whether from a desire 
not to overbear the discussion, or from distrust in his 
own power of accurately expressing the truth, and anxiety 
about the charge of heresy brought against himself, the 
primate, though in nowise a man of feeble mind, is said 
to have refrained from committing himself on the contro- 
verted subject, " applauding/' as Sozomen says, "some- 
times one party and sometimes the other." At length the 
error of Arius appeared to be of that serious and con- 
firmed nature, that countenance of it became sinful. The 
heresy began to spread beyond the Alexandrian Church ; 
the indecision of Alexander excited the murmurs of the 


Catholics ; till, at last, called unwillingly to the discharge 
of a severe duty, he gave public evidence of his real 
indignation against the blasphemies which he had so long 
endured, and excommunicated Arius with his followers. 

This proceeding, obligatory as it was on a Christian 
bishop, and ratified by the concurrence of a provincial 
council, and expedient even for the immediate interests 
of Christianity, had other churches been equally honest 
in their allegiance to the true faith, had the effect of 
increasing the influence of Arius, by throwing him upon 
his fellow Lucianists of the rival dioceses of the East, and 
giving notoriety to his name and tenets. In Egypt, indeed, 
he had already been supported by the Meletian faction ; 
which, in spite of its profession of orthodoxy, continued 
in alliance with him, through jealousy to the Church, 
even after he had fallen into heresy. But the coun- 
tenance of these schismatics was of small consideration, 
compared with the powerful aid frankly tendered him, 
on his excommunication, by the leading men in the great 
Catholic communities of Asia Minor and the East. 
Palestine was the first to afford him a retreat from 
Alexandrian orthodoxy, where he received a cordial 
reception from the learned Eusebius, Metropolitan of 
Caesarea, Athanasius of Anazarbus, and others ; who, in 
letters in his behalf, did not hesitate to declare their con- 
currence with him in the full extent of his heresy. Euse- 

8 9 

bius even declared that Christ was not very God (ak-qOwbs 
6t6s) ; and his associate Athanasius asserted, that He 
was in the number of the hundred sheep of the parable, 
i.e., the creatures of God. 

Yet, in spite of the countenance of these and other 
eminent men, Arius found it difficult to maintain his 
ground against the general indignation which his heresy 
excited. He was resolutely opposed by Philogonius, 
patriarch of Antioch, and Macarius of Jerusalem ; who 
promptly answered the call made upon them by Alex- 
ander, in his circulars addressed to the Syrian Churches. 
In the meanwhile Eusebius of Nicomedia, the early 
friend of Arius, and the ecclesiastical adviser of Con- 
stantia, the Emperor's sister, declared in his favour ; and 
offered him a refuge, which he readily accepted, from the 
growing unpopularity which attended him in Palestine. 
Supported by the patronage of so powerful a prelate, 
Arius was now scarcely to be considered in the position 
of a schismatic or an outcast. He assumed in conse- 
quence a more calm and respectful demeanour towards 
Alexander; imitated the courteous language of his friend ; 
and addressed his diocesan with an affectation of hu- 
mility, and deferred or appealed to previous statements 
made by Alexander himself on the doctrine in dispute. 
At this time also he seems to have corrected and com 
pleted his system. George, afterwards Bishop of Laodicea, 


taught him an evasion for the orthodox test tKOeov, by 
a reference to i Cor. xi. 12. Asterius, a sophist of Cap- 
padocia, supported the secondary sense of the word Logos 
as applied to Christ by a reference to such passages as 
Joel ii. 25 ; and, in order to explain away the force of 
the fi.6voyevr)s, maintained, that to Christ alone out of 
all creatures it had been given to be fashioned under the 
immediate presence and perilous weight of the Divine 
hand. Now, too, as it appears, the title of a\r]6t.vos 0eos 
was ascribed to him ; the oXXoloxtov was withdrawn ; and 
an admission of His actual indefectibility substituted for 
it. The heresy being thus placed on a less exceptionable 
basis, the influence of Eusebius was exerted in Councils 
both in Bithynia and Palestine; in which Arius was 
acknowledged, and more urgent solicitations addressed 
to Alexander, in order to effect his readmission into the 

This was the history of the controversy for the first 
four or five years of its existence; i. e., till the era of 
the Battle of Hadrianople (a.d. 323), by the issue of 
which Constantine, becoming master of the Roman 
world, was at liberty to turn his thoughts to the state 
of Christianity in the eastern province of the Empire. 
From this date it is connected with civil history ; a con- 
sequence natural, and indeed necessary, under the exist- 
ing circumstances, though it was the occasion of subject- 


ing Christianity to fresh persecutions, in place of those 
which its nominal triumph had terminated. When a 
heresy, condemned to excommunication by one Church, 
was taken up by another, and independent Christian 
bodies then stood in open opposition, nothing was left 
to those who desired peace, to say nothing of orthodoxy, 
but to bring the question under the notice of a General 
Council. But as a previous step, the leave of the civil 
power was plainly necessary for so public a display of 
that wide-spreading association, of which the faith of the 
Gospel was the uniting and animating principle. Thus 
the Church could not meet together in one, without 
entering into a sort of negotiation with the powers that 
be ; whose jealousy it is the duty of Christians, both as 
individuals and as a body, if possible, to dispel. On the 
other hand, the Roman Emperor, as a professed disciple 
of the truth, was, of course, bound to protect its interests, 
and to afford every facility for its establishment in purity 
and efficacy. It was under these circumstances that the 
Nicene Council was convoked. 


T T is an ungrateful task to discuss the private opinions 
and motives of an Emperor who was the first to 
profess himself the Protector of the Church, and to 
relieve it from the abject and suffering condition in which 
it had lain for three centuries. Constantine is our bene- 
factor j inasmuch as we, who now live, may be considered 
to have received the gift of Christianity by means of the 
increased influence which he gave to the Church. And, 
were it not that in conferring his benefaction, he 
burdened it with the bequest of an heresy, which out- 
lived his age by many centuries, and still exists in its 
effects in the divisions of the East, nothing would here 
be said, from mere grateful recollection of him, by way of 
analysing the state of mind in which he viewed the 
benefit which he has conveyed to us. But his conduct 
as it discovers itself in the subsequent history, natural 
as it was in his case, yet has somewhat of a warning in it 
which must not be neglected in after times. 


It is of course impossible accurately to describe the 
various feelings with which one in Constantine's peculiar 
position was likely to regard Christianity ; yet the joint 
effect of them all may be gathered from his actual con- 
duct, and the state of the civilized world at the time. 
He found his empire distracted with civil and religious 
dissensions, which tended to the dissolution of Society ; 
at a time, too, when the barbarians without were pressing 
upon it with a vigour, formidable in itself, but far more 
menacing in consequence of the decay of the ancient 
spirit of Rome. He perceived the power of its old 
polytheism, from whatever cause, exhausted, and a newly 
risen philosophy vainly endeavouring to resuscitate a 
mythology which had done its work, and now, like all 
things of earth, was fast returning to the dust from which 
it was taken. He heard the same philosophy inculcating 
the principles of that more exalted and refined religion 
which a civilized age will always require; and he 
witnessed the same substantial teaching, as he would con- 
sider it, embodied in the precepts, and enforced by the 
energetic discipline, the union, and the example of the 
Christian Church. Here his thoughts would rest, as in a 
natural solution of the investigation to which the state 
of his empire gave rise ; and, without knowing enough 
of the internal characters of Christianity to care to 
instruct himself in them, he would discern, on the face of 


it, a doctrine more real than that of philosophy, and a 
rule of life more self-denying than that of the Republic. 
The Gospel seemed to be the fit instrument of a civil 
reformation, being but a new form of the old wisdom 
which had existed in the world at large from the begin- 
ning. Revering, nay, in one sense, honestly submitting 
to its faith, yet he acknowledged it rather as a system 
than joined it as an institution ; and, by refraining from 
the sacrament of baptism till his last illness, he acted in 
the spirit of men of the world in every age, who dislike 
to pledge themselves to engagements which they still 
intend to fulfil, and to descend from the position of 
judges to that of disciples of the truth. 

Peace is so eminently a perfection of the Christian 
temper, conduct, and discipline, and it had been so 
wonderfully exemplified in the previous history of the 
Church, that it was almost unavoidable in a heathen 
soldier and statesman to regard it as the sole precept of 
the Gospel. It required a far more refined moral per- 
ception to detect and to approve the principle on which 
this peace is founded in Scripture ; to submit to the dic- 
tation of truth, as such, as a primary authority in matters 
of political and private conduct ; to understand how belief 
in a certain creed was a condition of divine favour ; how 
the social union was intended to result from a unity of 
opinions ; the love of man to spring from the love of God ; 


and zeal to be prior in the succession of Christian graces 
to benevolence. It had been predicted by Him who 
came to offer peace to the world, that, in matter of fact, 
that gift would be changed into the sword of discord ; 
mankind being alienated from the doctrine, more than 
they were won over by the amiableness, of Christianity. 
But He alone was able thus to discern through what a 
succession of difficulties divine truth advances to its final 
victory ; shallow minds anticipate the end apart from the 
course which leads to it. Especially they who receive 
scarcely more of His teaching than the instinct of civili- 
zation recognizes (and Constantine must, on the whole, 
be classed among such), view the religious dissensions of 
the Church as simply evil, and (as they would fain 
prove) contrary to His own precepts ; whereas, in fact, 
they are but the history of truth in its first stage of trial, 
when it aims at being " pure " before it is " peaceable ;'' 
and are reprehensible so far, as baser passions mix them- 
selves with that true loyalty towards God which desires 
His own glory in the first place, and only in the second 
place the tranquillity and good order of society. 


T T often happens that men of very dissimilar talents and 
tastes are attracted together by their very dissimili- 
tude. They live in intimacy for a time, perhaps a long 
time, till their circumstances alter, or some sudden event 
comes to try them. Then the peculiarities of their 
respective minds are brought out into action ; and 
quarrels ensue, which end in coolness or separation. 
Such are the two main characters which are found in the 
Church — high energy and sweetness of temper ; far from 
incompatible of course, united in Apostles, though in 
different relative proportions, yet only partially combined 
in ordinary Christians, and often altogether parted from 
each other. 

This contrast of character, leading first to intimacy, 
then to difference, is interestingly displayed, though 
painfully, in one passage of the history of Basil and 
Gregory. Gregory the affectionate, the tender-hearted, 
the man of quick feelings, the accomplished, the eloquent 
preacher — and Basil, the man of firm resolve and hard 


deeds, the high-minded ruler of Christ's flock, the diligent 
labourer in the field of ecclesiastical politics. Thus they 
differed ; yet not as if they had not much in common 
still : both had the blessing and discomfort of a sensitive 
mind ; both were devoted to an ascetic life ; both were 
men of classical tastes ; but both were special champions 
of the orthodox creed ; both were skilled in argument, 
and successful in their use of it ; both were in highest 
place in the Church, the one Exarch of Csesarea, the 
other Patriarch of Constantinople. 

Basil and Gregory were both natives of Cappadocia ; 
but here, again, under different circumstances. Basil was 
born of a good family, and with Christian ancestors ; 
Gregory was the son of a Bishop of Nazianzus, who had 
been brought up an idolater, or rather an Hypsistarian, a 
mongrel sort of religionist, part Jew, part Pagan. He 
was brought over to Christianity by the efforts of his wife 
Nonna, and at Nazianzus admitted by baptism into the 
Church. In process of time he was made bishop of that 
city ; but, not having very clear doctrinal views, he was 
betrayed in 360 into signing the Arian creed, which 
caused him much trouble, and from which at length his 
son rescued him. Caesarea being at no insurmountable 
distance from Nazianzus, the two friends had known each 
other in their own country j but their intimacy began at 
Athens, whither they separately repaired for the purposes 



of education. This was about a.d. 351, when each of 
them was twenty-two years of age. Gregory came to the 
seat of learning shortly before Basil, and thus was able to 
be his host and guide on his arrival; but fame had 
reported Basil's merits before he came, and he seems to 
have made his way, in a place of all others most difficult 
to a stranger, with a facility peculiar to himself. He soon 
found himself admired and respected by his fellow- 
students; but Gregory was his only friend, and shared 
with him the reputation for talent and attainments. They 
remained at Athens four or five years ; and, at the end of 
the time, made the acquaintance of Julian, since of evil 
name in history as the Apostate. 

The friends had been educated for rhetoricians, and 
their oratorical powers were such, that they seemed to 
have every prize in prospect which a secular ambition 
could desire. Their names were known far and wide, 
their attainments acknowledged by enemies, and they 
themselves personally popular in their circle of acquaint- 
ance. It was under these circumstances that they took 
the extraordinary resolution of quitting the world together ; 
extraordinary the world calls it, utterly perplexed to find 
that any conceivable objects can, by any sane person, be 
accounted better than its own gifts and favours. They 
resolved to seek baptism of the Church, and to consecrate 
• heir gifts to the service of the Giver. With characters of 


mind very different — the one grave, the other lively ; the 
one desponding, the other sanguine ; the one with deep 
feelings, the other with acute and warm, they agreed 
together in holding that the things that are seen are not 
to be compared to the things that are not seen. They 
quitted the world, while it entreated them to stay. What 
passed when they were about to leave Athens, represents 
as in a figure the parting which they and the world took 
of each other. When the day of valediction arrived, their 
companions and equals, nay, some of their tutors came 
about them, and resisted their departure by entreaties, 
arguments, and even by violence. This occasion showed, 
also, their respective dispositions ; for the firm Basil 
persevered and went ; the tender-hearted Gregory was 
softened, and stayed a while longer. Basil, indeed, in 
spite of the reputation which attended him, had, from the 
first, felt disappointment with the celebrated abode of 
philosophy and literature, and seems to have given up 

the world from a conviction of its emptiness Yet 

Gregory had inducements of his own to leave the world, 
not to insist on his love of Basil's company. His mother 
had devoted him to God both before and after his birth ; 
and when he was a child he had a remarkable dream 

which made a great impression upon him The 

impression, indeed, was as " a spark of heavenly fire," or 
" a taste of divine milk and honey." 


As far then as these descriptions go, one might say 
that Gregory's abandonment of the world arose from an 
early passion, as it might be called, for a purity higher 
than his own nature ; and Basil's from a profound sense 
of the world's nothingness and the world's defilements. 
Both seem to have viewed it as a sort of penitential 
exercise, as well as a means towards perfection. . 

When they had once resolved to devote themselves to 
the service of religion, the question arose, how they 
might best improve and employ the talents committed to 
them. Somehow, the idea of marrying and taking orders, 
or taking orders and marrying, building or improving 
their parsonage, and showing forth the charities and the 
humanities and the gentilities of a family man, did not 
suggest itself to their minds. They fancied that they 
must give up wife, children, property, if they could be 
perfect ; and, this being taken for granted, that theii 
choice did but lie between two modes of life, both of 
which they regarded as extreme. Here, then, for a time, 
they were in some perplexity. Gregory speaks of two 
ascetic disciplines, that of the solitary and that of the 
secular; one of which, he says, profits a man's self, the 
other his neighbour. Midway, however, between these 
lay the cenobite, or what we commonly call the mo- 
nastic ; removed from the world yet acting in a certain 
circle. And this was the rule which the friends at length 


determined to adopt, withdrawing from mixed society in 
order to be of greater service to it. 

Not many years passed after their leaving Athens, 
when Basil put his resolution into practice ; and, having 
fixed upon Pontus for his retirement, wrote to Gregory to 
remind him of his promise. Gregory hesitated. Then 
he wrote to expostulate with him. Gregory's answer 
was as follows : — 

" I have not stood to my word, I own it ; having 
protested, ever since Athens and our friendship and 
union of heart there, that I would be your companion, 
and follow a strict life with you. Yet I act against my 
wish, duty annulled by duty, the duty of friendship by 

the duty of filial reverence However, I still shall 

be able to perform my promise in a measure, if you will 
accept thus much. I will come to you for a time, if, in 
turn, you will give me your company here; thus we shall 
be quits in friendly service, while we have all things 
common. And thus I shall avoid distressing my parents, 
without losing you." 

When we bear in mind what has been already men- 
tioned about Gregory's father, we may well believe that 
there really were very urgent reasons against the son 
leaving him, when it came to the point, over and above 
the ties which would keep him with a father and mother, 
both advanced in years. Basil, however, was disappointed ; 


and instead of retiring to Pontus, devoted a year to 
visiting the monastic institutions of Syria and Egypt. 
On his return, his thoughts again settled on his friend 
Gregory ; and he attempted to overcome the obstacle in 
the way of their old project, by placing himself in a 
district called Tiberius, near Gregory's own home. 
Finding, however, the spot cold and damp, he gave up 
the idea of it. On one occasion, while he was yet living 
in Csesarea, where for a time he had taught rhetoric, 
Gregory wrote to him a familiar letter, as from a country- 
man to an inhabitant of a town. 

Meanwhile Basil had chosen for his retreat a spot 
near Neocaesarea, in Pontus, close by the village where 
lay his father's property, where he had been brought up 
in childhood by his grandmother, Macrina, and whither 
his mother and sister had retired for a monastic life after 
his father's death. The river Iris ran between the two 
places. Within a mile of their monastery was the Church 
of the Forty Martyrs, where father, mother, and sister 
were successively buried. On settling there, he again 
wrote to Gregory, urging him to come. 

Gregory answered this letter by one which is still 
extant, in which he satirizes, point by point, the picture 
of the Pontine solitude which Basil had drawn to allure 
him ; perhaps from distaste for it, perhaps in the temper 
of one who studiously disparages what, if he had admitted 


the thought, might prove too great a temptation far him. 

He ends thus : " This is longer, perhaps, than a letter, but 

shorter than a comedy. For yourself it will be good of 

you to take this castigation well ; but if you do not, I will 

give you some more of it." Basil did take the castigation 

well ; but this did not save him from the infliction of the 

concluding threat ; for Gregory, after paying him a visit, 

continued in the same bantering strain in a later epistle. 

The next kindly intercourse between Basil and Gregory 
took place on occasion of the difference between Basil 
and his bishop, Eusebius, when Gregory interfered 
successfully to reconcile them. And the next arose out 
of circumstances which followed the death of Gregory's 
brother, Caesarius. On his death-bed he had left all his 
goods to the poor ; a bequest which was interfered with, 
first by servants and others about him, who carried oft' 
at once all the valuables on which they could lay hands ; 
and after Gregory had come into possession of the 
residue, by the fraud of certain pretended creditors, who 
appealed to the law on his refusing to satisfy them. 
Basil, on this occasion, gained him the interest of the 
Prefect of Constantinople, and another, whose influence 
was great at court. 

We now come to the election of Basil to the Exarchate 
of Cappadocia, which was owing in no small degree to the 


exertions of Gregoiy and his father in his favour. The 
event, which was attended with considerable hazard of 
defeat from the strength of the civil party, and an 
episcopal faction opposed to Basil, doubtless was at the 
moment a cause of increased affection between the 
friends, though it was soon the occasion of the differ- 
ence and coolness which I have already spoken of. 
Gregory, as I have said, was of an amiable temper, 
fond of retirement and literary pursuits, and culti- 
vating Christianity in its domestic and friendly aspect, 
rather than amid the toils of ecclesiastical warfare. I 
have also said enough to show that I have no thoughts 
whatever of accusing him of any approach to self-indul- 
gence; and his subsequent conduct at Constantinople 
made it clear how well he could undergo and fight up 
against persecution in the quarrel of the Gospel. But 
such scenes of commotion were real sufferings to him, 
even independently of the personal danger of them ; he 
was unequal to the task of ruling, and Basil in vain 
endeavoured to engage him as his coadjutor and comrade 
in the government of his Exarchate. 

At length Gregory came to Caesarea, where Basil 
showed him all marks of affection and respect ; and when 
Gregory declined any public attentions, from a fear of the 
jealousy it might occasion, his friend let him do as he 
would, regardless, as Gregory observes, of the charge 


which might fall on himself, of neglecting Gregory, from 

those who were ignorant of the circumstances. However, 

Basil could not detain him long in the metropolitan city. 

About two years after Basil's elevation, a dispute arose 
between him and Anthimus, Bishop of Tyana. Cappa- 
docia had been divided by the civil power into two parts ; 
and Anthimus contended that an ecclesiastical division 
must necessarily follow the civil, and that, in consequence, 
he himself, as holding the chief see in the second Cappa- 
docia, was the rightful metropolitan of the province. The 
justice of the case was with Basil, but he was opposed by 
the party of bishops who were secretly Arianizers, and 
had already opposed themselves to his election. Accord- 
ingly, having might on his side, Anthimus began to 
alienate the monks from Basil, to appropriate the revenues 
of the Church of Caesarea, which lay in his province, and 
to expel or gain over the presbyters, giving, as an excuse, 
that respect and offerings ought not to be paid to 
heterodox persons. 

Gregory at once offered his assistance to his friend, 
hinting to him, at the same time, that some of those 
about him had some share of blame in the dispute. 
It happened unfortunately for their intimacy that they 
were respectively connected with distinct parties in the 
Church. Basil knew and valued and gained over many 


of the semi-Arians, who dissented from the orthodox 
doctrine more from over subtlety or want of clearness of 
mind, than from unbelief. Gregory was in habits of 
intimacy with the religious brethren of Nazianzus, his 
father's see, and these were eager for orthodoxy almost 
as a badge of party. Basil, in one of his letters, had 
reflected on these monks ; and, on this occasion, Gregory 
warned him against Eustathius and his friends, whose 
orthodoxy was suspicious, and who, being ill-disposed 
towards Anthimus, were likely to increase the difference 
between the latter and Basil. 

Gregory's offer of assistance to Basil was frankly made, 
and seems to have been as frankly accepted. " I will 
come if you wish me," he had said, " if so be, to advise 
with you, if the sea wants water, or you a counsellor j 
at all events, to gain benefit, and to act the philosopher 
by bearing ill-usage in your company." Accordingly 
they set out together for Mount Taurus, in the second 
Cappadocia, where there was an estate or Church dedi- 
cated to St. Orestes, the property of the see of C?esarea. 
On their return with the produce of the farm, they were 
encountered by the retainers of Anthimus, who blocked 
up the pass, and attacked their company. This warfare 
between Christian bishops was obviously a great scandal 
to the Church, and Basil adopted a measure which he 
considered would put an end to it. He increased the 


number of bishopricks in that district, considering that 
residents might be able to secure the produce of the 
estate without disturbance, and to quiet and gain over 
the minds of those who had encouraged Anthimus in his 
opposition. Sasima was a village in this neighbourhood, 
and here he determined to place his friend Gregory, 
doubtless considering that he could not show him a 
greater mark of confidence than to commit to him the 
management of the quarrel, or confer on him a post, to 
his own high spirit more desirable, than the place of risk 
and responsibility. 

Gregory had been unwilling even to be made a priest , 
but he shrunk with fear from the office of a bishop. He 
had on his mind that overpowering sense of the awfulness 
of the ministerial commission which then prevailed in more 
serious minds. " I feel myself to be unequal to this 
warfare," he had said on his ordination, " and therefore 
have hid my face, and slunk away. And I ought to sit 
down in solitude, being filled with bitterness, and to 
keep silence, from a conviction that the days were evil, 
since God's beloved have kicked against the truth, and 
we have become revolting children. And besides this, 
there is the internal warfare with one's passions, which 
my body of humiliation wages with me night and day, 
part hidden, part open — and the tossing to and fro 
and whirling through the senses and the delights of life ; 


and the deep mire in which I stick fast ; and the law of 
sin warring against the law of the spirit, and striving to 
efface the royal image in us, and whatever of a divine 
effluence has been vested in us. Before one has subdued 
with all one's might the principle which drags one down, 
and has cleansed the mind duly, and has surpassed others 
much in approach to God, I consider it unsafe either to 
undertake cure of souls, or mediatorship between God and 
man, for some such thing is a priest." With these admirable 
feelings the weakness of man mingled itself : at the urgent 
command of his father he submitted to be consecrated ; 
but the reluctance which he had felt to undertake the 
office was now transferred to his occupying the see to 
which he had been appointed. An ascetic, like Gregory, 
ought not to have complained of the country as deficient 
in beauty and interest, even though he might be allowed 
to feel the responsibility of a situation which made him 
a neighbour of Anthimus. Yet such was his infirmity ; 
and he repelled the accusations of his mind against 
himself by charging Basil with unkindness in placing him 
at Sasima. On the other hand, it is possible that Basil, 
in his eagerness for the settlement of the Exarchate, 
too little consulted the character and taste of Gregory ; 
and, above all, the feelings of duty which bound him to 
Nazianzus. This is the latter's account of the matter, in 
a letter which displays much heat and even resentment 


against Basil : — " Give me," he says, ' peace and quiet 
above all things. Why should I be fighting for sucklings 
and birds which are not mine, as if in a matter of souls 
and church rules ? Well, play the man, be strong, turn 
everything to your own glory, as rivers suck up the 
mountain rill, thinking little of friendship or intimacy, 
compared with high aims and piety, and disregarding 
what the world will think of you for all this, being the 
property of the Spirit alone ; while, on my part, so much 
shall I gain from this your friendship, not to trust in 
friends, nor to put anything above God." 

In the beginning of the same letter, he throws the 
blame upon Basil's episcopal throne, which suddenly 
made him higher than himself. Elsewhere he accuses 
him of ambition, and desire of aggrandising himself. 
Basil, on the other hand, seems to have accused him of 
indolence and want of spirit. 

Such was the melancholy crisis of an estrangement 
which had been for some time in preparation. Hence- 
forth no letters, which are preserved, passed between the 
two friends ; nor are any acts of intercourse discoverable 
in their history. Anthimus appointed a rival bishop to 
Sasima ; and Gregory, refusing to contest the see with 
him, returned to Nazianzus. Basil laboured by himself. 
Gregory retained his feeling of Basil's unkindness even 
after his death ; though he revered and admired him not 


less, or even more than before, and attributed his con- 
duct to a sense of duty. In his commemorative oration, 
after praising his erection of new sees, he says : " Into 
this measure I myself was brought in by the way. I do 
not seem bound to use a soft phrase. For admiring as 
I do all he did, more than I can say, this one thing I 
cannot praise, for I will confess my feeling, which is 
otherwise not unknown to the world, his extraordinary 
and unfriendly conduct towards me, of which time has 
not removed the pain. For to this I trace all the irregu- 
larity and confusion of my life, and my not being able, 
or not seeming ; to command my feelings, though the 
latter of the two is a small matter ; unless, indeed, I may 
be suffered to make this excuse for him, that, having 
views beyond this earth, and having departed hence 
before life was over, he viewed everything as the Spirit's ; 
and knowing how to reverence friendship, then only 
slighted it, when it was a duty to prefer God, and to 
make more account of the things hoped for, than things 

This lamentable occurrence took place eight or nine 
years before Basil's death ; he had before and after it 
many trials, many sorrows ; but this probably was the 
greatest of all. 


T^HE word martyr properly means " a witness," but is 
used to denote exclusively one who has suffered death 
for the Christian faith. Those who have witnessed foi 
Christ without suffering death are called confessors; a 
title which the early martyrs often made their own, before 
their last solemn confession unto death, or martyrdom. 
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the chief and most glorious of 
martyrs, as having before Pontius Pilate witnessed a 
good confession ; but we do not call Him a martyr, as 
being much more than a martyr. True it is He died for 
the truth, but that was not the chief purpose of His death. 
He died to save us sinners from the wrath of God. He 
was not only a martyr, He was an atoning sacrifice. 

He is the supreme object of our love, gratitude, and 
reverence. Next to Him, we honour the noble army of 
martyrs ; not, indeed, comparing them with Him, " who 
is above all, God blessed for ever;" or as if they in 
suffering had any part in the work of reconciliation ; but 


because they have approached most closely to His pat- 
tern of all His servants. They have shed their blood for 
the Church, fulfilling the text : " He laid down His life 
for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the 
brethren." They have followed His steps, and claim 
our grateful remembrance. Had St. Stephen shrunk 
from the trial put upon him, and recanted to save his 
life, no one can estimate the consequences of such a 
defection. Perhaps (humanly speaking) the cause of 
the Gospel would have been lost ; the Church might have 
perished ; and, though Christ had died for the world, the 
world might not have received the knowledge or the 
benefits of His death. The channels of grace might 
have been destroyed, the sacraments withdrawn from the 
feeble and corrupt race which has such need of them. 

Now, it may be said that many men suffer pain, as great 
as martyrdom, from disease and in other ways : again, that 
it does not follow that those who happened to be martyred 
were always the most useful and active defenders of the 
faith ; and therefore, that in honouring the martyrs we are 
honouring with especial honour those to whom indeed 
we may be peculiarly indebted (as in the case of the 
apostles), but nevertheless who may have been but ordi- 
nary men, who happened to stand in the most exposed 
place, in the way of persecution, and were slain as if by 
chance, because the sword met them first. But this, it is 


feared, would be a strange way of reasoning in any 
parallel case. We are grateful to those who have done 
us favours, rather than to those who might or would, if it 
had so happened. We have no concern with the ques- 
tion whether the martyrs were the best of men or not, or 
whether others would have been martyrs too, had it been 
allowed them. We are grateful to those who were such ? 
from the plain matter of fact that they were such, that 
they did go through much suffering in order that the 
world might gain an inestimable benefit, the light of the 

But in truth, if we could view the matter considerately, 
we shall find that (as far as human judgment can decide 
on such a point) the martyrs of the primitive times were, 
as such, men of a very elevated faith, not only our bene- 
factors, but far our superiors. Let us consider what it was 
then to be a martyr. 

First, it was to be a voluntary sufferer. Men, perhaps, 
suffer in various diseases more than the martyrs did, but 
they cannot help themselves. Again, it has frequentl) 
happened that men have been persecuted for their 
religion without having expected it, or being able to avert 
it. These in one sense indeed are martyrs, and we 
naturally think affectionately of those who have suffered 
in our cause, whether voluntarily or not. But this was 
not the case with the primitive martyrs. They knew 



beforehand clearly enough the consequences of preaching 
the Gospel ; they had frequent warnings brought home 
to them of the sufferings in store for them if they per- 
severed in their labours of brotherly love. Their Lord 
and Master had suffered before them ; and besides 
suffering Himself, had expressly foretold their sufferings. 
" If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute , 
you." They were repeatedly warned and strictly charged 
by the chief priests and rulers not to preach Christ's 
name. They had experience of lesser punishments from 
their adversaries in earnest of the greater ; and at length 
they saw their brethren one by one slain for persevering 
in their faithfulness to Christ. Yet they continued to 
keep the faith, though they might be victims of their 
obedience any day. 

All this must be considered when we speak of their 
sufferings. They lived under a continual trial, a daily 
exercise of faith, which we, living in peaceable times, can 
scarcely understand. Christ had said to His apostles, 
** Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as 
wheat." Consider what is meant by sifting, which is a 
continued agitation, a shaking about to separate the mass 
of corn into two parts. Such was the early discipline 
inflicted on the Church. No mere sudden stroke came 
upon it ; but it was solicited day by day, in all its mem- 
bers, by every argument of hope and fear, by threats and 


inducements, to desert Christ. This was the lot of the 
martyrs. Death, their final suffering, was but a confirma- 
tion of a life of anticipated death. Consider how dis- 
tressing anxiety is — how irritating and wearying it is to 
be in a state of constant excitement, with the duty of 
maintaining calmness and steadiness in the midst of it, 
and how especially inviting any prospect of tranquillity 
would appear in such circumstances, and then we shall 
have some notion of a Christian's condition under a 
persecuting heathen government. I put aside for the 
present the peculiar reproach and contempt which was 
the lot of the primitive Church, and their actual priva- 
tions. Let us merely consider them as harassed, shaken 
as wheat in a sieve. Under such circumstances, the 
stoutest hearts are in danger of failing. They could steel 
themselves against certain definite sufferings, or prepare 
themselves to meet one expected crisis ; but they yield 
to the incessant annoyance which the apprehension of 
persecution and importunity of friends inflict on them. 
They sigh for peace ; they gradually come to believe that 
the world is not so wrong as some men say it is, and that 
it is possible to be over strict and over nice. They learn 
to temporise and be double-minded. First one falls, and 
then another ; and such instances come as an additional 
argument for concession to those that remain firm as yet, 
who of course feel dispirited, lonely, and begin to doubt 


the correctness of their own judgment ; while on the 
other hand, those who have fallen, in self-defence become 
their tempters. Thus the Church is sifted, the cowardly 
falling off, the faithful continuing firm, though in dejec- 
tion and perplexity. Among these latter are the martyrs ; 
not accidental victims taken at random, but the picked 
and choice ones, the elect remnant, a sacrifice well 
pleasing to God, because a costly gift, the finest wheat- 
flour of the Church ; men who have been warned what to 
expect from their profession, and have had many oppor- 
tunities of relinquishing it, but have "borne and had 
patience, and for Christ's name sake have laboured and 
have not fainted." Such was St. Stephen, not entrapped 
into a confession and slain (as it were) in ambuscade, but 
boldly confronting his persecutors, and, in spite of cir- 
cumstances that foreboded death, awaiting their fury. 
And if martyrdom in early times was not the chance and 
unexpected death of those who happened to profess the 
Christian faith, much less is it to be compared to the 
sufferings of disease, be they greater or not. No one is 
maintaining that the mere undergoing pain is a great 
thing. A man cannot help himself when in pain ; he 
cannot escape from it, be he as desirous to do so as he 
may. The devils beat pain against their will. But to be 
a martyr is to feel the storm coming, and willingly to 
endure it at the call of duty, for Christ's sake and for the 


good of the brethren ; and this is a kind of firmness 
which we have no means of displaying at the present day, 
though our deficiency may be, and is continually evidenced, 
as often as we yield (which is not seldom) to inferior and 
ordinary temptations. 

But, in the next place, the suffering itself of martyrdom 
was in some icspects peculiar It was a death cruel in 
itself, publicly inflicted, and heightened by the fierce 
exultation of a malevolent populace. When we are in 
pain, we can lie in peace by ourselves ; we receive the 
sympathy and kind services of those about us ; and, if we 
like it, we can retire altogether from the sight of others, 
and suffer without a witness to interrupt us. But the 
sufferings of martyrdom were for the most part public, 
attended with every circumstance of ignominy and popu- 
lar triumph, as well as with torture. Criminals, indeed, 
are put to death without kindly thoughts from the by- 
standers ; still, for the most part, even criminals receive 
commiseration and a sort of respect. But the early 
Christians had to endure " the shame " after their 
Master's pattern. They had to die in the midst of 
enemies who reviled them, and in mockery bid them (as 
in Christ's case) come clown from the cross. They were 
supported on no easy couch, soothed by no attentive 
friends ; and considering how much the depressing 
power of pain depends upon the imagination, this cir- 


cumstance alone at once separates their sufferings widely 
from all instances of pain in disease. The unseen God 
alone was their comforter, and this invests the scene of 
their suffering with supernatural majesty, and awes us 
when we think of them. " Yea, though I walk through 
the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil ;•■ for 
Thou art with me." A martyrdom is a season of God's 
especial power in the eye of faith, as great as if a miracle 
were visibly wrought 



" The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty 
years : few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, 
and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of 
my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage." — Gen. xlvii. 9. 

"\ \ THY did the aged patriarch call his days few, who 
had lived twice as long as men now live, when he 
spoke ? Why did he call them evil, seeing he had on 
the whole lived in riches and honour, and, what is more, 
in God's favour ? Yet he described his time as short, his 
days as evil, and his life as but a pilgrimage. Or if we 
allow that his afflictions were such as to make him 
reasonably think cheaply of his life, in spite of the 
blessings which attended it, yet that he should call it 
short, considering he had so much more time for the 
highest purposes of his being than we have, is at first 
sight surprising. He alludes indeed to the longer life 
which had been granted to his fathers, and perhaps felt a 
decrepitude greater than theirs had been ; yet this dif- 


ference between him and them could hardly be the real 
ground of his complaint in the text, or more than a con- 
firmation or occasion of it. It was not because Abraham 
had lived one hundred and seventy-five years, and 
Isaac one hundred and eighty, and he himself, whose life 
was not yet finished, but one hundred and thirty, that he 
made this mournful speech. For it matters not when 
time is gone what length it has been ; and this doubtless 
was the real cause why the patriarch spoke as he did, 
not because his life was shorter than his father's, but 
because it was well-nigh over. When life is past, it is all 
one whether it has lasted two hundred years or fifty. 
And it is this characteristic, stamped on human life in 
the day of its birth, viz., that it is mortal, which makes it 
under all circumstances and in every form equally feeble 
and despicable. All the points in which men differ, 
health and strength, high and low estate, happiness or 
misery, vanish before this common lot, mortality. Pass 
a few years, and the longest lived will be gone. Nor 
will what is past profit him then, except in its conse- 

And this sense of the nothingness of life, impressed on 
us by the very fact that it comes to an end, is much 
deepened when we contrast it with the capabilities of us 
who live it. Had Jacob lived to Methusaleh's age, he 
would have called it short. This is what we all feel, though 


at first sight it seems a contradiction, that even though the 
days as they go be slow, and be laden with many events, 
or with sorrows, or dreariness, lengthening them out and 
making them tedious, yet the year passes quick though 
the hours tarry, and time bygone is as a dream, though 
we thought it would never go while it was going. And 
the reason seems to be this ; that when we contemplate 
human life in itself, in however small a portion of it, we 
see implied in it the presence of a soul, the energy of a 
spiritual existence, of an accountable being : conscious- 
ness tells us this concerning it every moment. But when 
we look back on it in memory, we view it but externally 
as a mere lapse of time, as a mere earthly history. And 
the longest duration of this external world is as dust, and 
weighs nothing against one moment's life of the world 
within. Thus we are ever expecting great things from 
life, from our internal consciousness, every moment of 
our having souls ; and we are ever being disappointed 
on considering what we have gained from time past, and 
can hope from time to come. And life is ever promising 
and never fulfilling ; and hence, however long it be, our 
days are few and evil. 

Our earthly life then gives promise of what it does not 
accomplish. It promises immortality, yet it is mortal ; 
it contains life in death, and eternity in time; and it 
attracts us by beginnings which faith alone brings to an 


end. I mean, when we take into account the powers 
with which our souls are gifted as Christians, the very 
consciousness of these fills us with a certainty that they 
must last beyond this life. That is in the case of good 
and holy men, whose present state, I say, is to them who 
know them well an earnest of immortality. The great- 
ness of their gifts, contrasted with their scanty time for 
exercising them, forces the mind forward to the thought 
of another life as almost the necessary counterpart and 
consequence of this life, and certainly implied in this 
life, provided there be a righteous governor of the world 

who does not make man for nought And if this 

earthly life is short, even when longest, from the great dis- 
proportion between it and the powers of regenerate man, 
still more is this the case, of course, where it is cut short and 
death comes prematurely. Men there are, who in a single 
moment of their lives have shown a superhuman height 
and majesty of mind which it would take ages for them 
to employ on its proper objects, and, as it were, to 
exhaust; and who by such passing flashes, like rays 
of the sun and the darting of lightning, give token of 
their immortality, give token to us that they are but 
angels in disguise, the elect of God, sealed for eternal 
life, and destined to judge the world and to reign with 
Christ for ever. Yet they are suddenly taken away, and 
we have hardly recognized them when we lose them. 


Can we believe that they are not removed for higher 
things elsewhere ? This is sometimes said with reference 
to our intellectual powers, but it is still more true of our 
moral nature. There is something in moral truth and 
goodner.s, in faith, in firmness, in heavenly-mindedness, 
in meekiess, in courage, in lovingkindness, to which this 
world's circumstances are quite unequal, for which the 
longest life is insufficient, which makes the highest oppor- 
tunities of this world disappointing, which must burst the 
prison of this world to have its appropriate range. So 
that when a good man dies, one is led to say, " He has 
not half showed himself, he has had nothing to exercise 
him ; his days are gone like a shadow, and he is withered 
like grass." 

I say the word " disappointing " is the only word to 
express our feelings on the death of God's saints. Unless 
our faith be very active, so as to pierce beyond the grave 
and realize the future, we feel depressed at what seems 
like a failure of great things. And from this very 
feeling surely, by a sort of contradiction, we may fairly 
take hope; for if this life be so disappointing, so 
unfinished, surely it is not the whole. This feeling of 
disappointment will often come upon us in an especial 
way, on happening to hear of or to witness the death- 
beds of holy men. The hour of death seems to be a 
season, of which, in the hands of Providence, much 


might be made, if I may use the term ; much might be 
done for the glory of God, the good of man, and the 
manifestation of the person dying. And beforehand 
friends will perhaps look forward, and expect that great 
things are then to take place, which they shall never 
forget. Yet, "Howdieth the wise man? as the fool." 
Such is the preacher's experience, and our own bears 
witness to it. King Josiah, the zealous servant of the 
living God, died the death of wicked Ahab, the wor- 
shipper of Baal. True Christians die as other men. 
One dies by a sudden accident, another in battle, another 
without friends to see how he dies, a fourth is insensible, 
or not himself. Thus the opportunity seems thrown away, 
and we are forcibly reminded that " the manifestation of 
the sons of God " is hereafter ; that " the earnest ex- 
pectation of the creature " is but waiting for it ; that this 
life is unequal to the burthen of so great an office as the 
due exhibition of those secret ones who shall one day 
" shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." 

But further (if it be allowable to speculate), one can 
conceive even the same kind of feeling, and a most 
transporting one, to come over the soul of the faithful 
Christian when just separated from the body, and 
conscious that his trial is once for all over. Though his 
life has been a long and painful discipline, yet when it 
is over we may suppose him to feel at the moment 


the same sort of surprise at its being ended as generally 
follows any exertion in this life when the object is 
gained and the anticipation over — when we have wound 
up our minds for any point of time, any great event, 
an interview with strangers, or the sight of some wonder, 
or the occasion of some unusual trial. When it comes, 
and is gone, we have a strange reverse of feeling from 
our changed circumstances. Such, but without any 
mixture of pain, without any lassitude, dulness, or dis- 
appointment, may be the happy contemplation of the 
disembodied spirit : as if it said to itself, " So all is now 
over ; this is what I have so long waited for, for which 
I have nerved myself, against which I have prepared, 
fasted, prayed, and wrought righteousness. Death is 
come and gone — it is over. Ah ! is it possible ? What 
an easy trial, what a cheap price for eternal glory ! A 
few sharp sicknesses, or some acute pain a while, or some 
few and evil years, or some struggles of mind, dreary 
desolateness for a season, fightings and fears, afflicting 
bereavements, or the scorn and ill-usage of the world — 
how they fretted me, how much I thought of them ! 
Yet how little really they are ! How contemptible a 
thing is human life, contemptible in itself, yet in its effects 
invaluable ! for it has been to me like a small seed of 
easy purchase, germinating and ripening into bliss ever- 


Such being the unprofitableness of this life viewed in 
itself, it is plain how we should regard it while we go 
through it. We should remember that it is scarcely 
more than an accident of our being ; that it is no part of 
ourselves, who are immortal ; that we are immortal spirits, 
independent of time and space ; and that this life is but 
a sort of outward stage, on which we act for a time, and 
which is only sufficient and only intended to answer the 
purpose of trying whether we will serve God or no. We 
should consider ourselves to be in this world in no 
fuller sense than players of any game are in the game ; 
and life to be a sort of dream, as detached and as different 
from our real eternal existence, as a dream differs from 
waking; a serious dream, indeed, as affording a means 
of judging us, yet in itself a kind of shadow without 
substance, a scene set before us, in which we seem to 
be, and in which it is our duty to act just as if all we 
saw had a truth and reality, because all that meets us 
influences us and our destiny 

Let us then thus account of our present state. It is 
precious, as revealing to us, amid shadows and figures, 
the existence and attributes of Almighty God and His 
elect people. It is precious, because it enables us to 
hold intercourse with immortal souls who are on their 
trial as we are. It is momentous as being the scene 
and means of our trial ; but beyond this it has no 


claims upon us. " Vanity of vanities, says the preacher, 
all is vanity." We may be poor or rich, young or old, 
honoured or slighted, and it ought to affect us no more, 
neither to elate us nor depress us, than if we were actors 
in a play, who know that the characters that they re- 
present are not their own, and that though they may 
appear to be superior one to another, to be kings or 
10 oe peasants, they are in realiry all on a level. 


"I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, 
marvellous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right 
well."— Psalm cxxxix. 14. 

T N the very impressive Psalm from which these words 
are taken, this is worth noticing among other things. 
That the inspired writer finds, in the mysteries without 
and within him, a source of admiration and praise. " I 
vi'\\\j>raise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made : 
marvellous are Thy works." When Nicodemus heard of 
God's wonderful working, he said : " How can these 
things be ?" But holy David glories in what the natural 
man stumbles at. It awes his heart and imagination to 
think that God sees him wherever he is, yet without 
provoking or irritating his reason. He has no proud 
thoughts rising against what he cannot understand, and 
calling for his vigilant control. He does not submit his 
reason by an effort, but he bursts forth in exultation to 


think that God is so mysterious. " Such knowledge is 
too wonderful for me ;" he says, " it is high, I cannot 
attain unto it." This reflection is suitable on this festival 
(Trinity Sunday), on which our thoughts are especially 
turned to the great doctrine of the Trinity in Unity. . . . 
1 will endeavour to show that the difficulty which human 
words have in expressing it, is no greater than we meet 
with when we would express in human words even those 
earthly things of which we actually have experience, and 
which we cannot deny to exist, because we see them. 
So that our part evidently lies in using the mysteries of 
religion as David did, simply as a means of impressing 
on our minds the inscrutableness of Almighty God. 
Mysteries in religion are measured by the proud accord- 
ing to their own capacity ; by the humble, according to 
the power of God : the humble glorify God for them, the 
proud exalt themselves against them. 

The text speaks of earthly things. "I am fearfully 
and wonderfully made." Now, let us observe some of 
the mysteries that are involved in our own nature. 

1. First, we are made up of soul and body. Now, if 
we did not know this so that we cannot deny it, what 
notion could our minds ever form of such a mixture of 
natures, and how should we ever succeed in making those 
who go only by abstract reason take in what we meant ? 
The body is made of matter : this we see ; it has a 


certain extension, make, form, and solidity. By the 
soul we mean that invisible principle which thinks. We 
are conscious we are alive, and are rational. Each man 
has his own thoughts, feelings, and desires ; each man is 
one to himself, and he knows himself to be one and indi- 
visible — one in such sense, that while he exists, it were 
an absurdity to suppose he can be any other than him- 
self; one in a sense in which no material body which 
consists of parts can be one. He is sure that he is 
distinct from the body, though joined to it, because he is 
one, and the body is not one, but a collection of many 
things. He feels, moreover, that he is distinct from it 
because he uses it ; for what a man can use he is superior 
to. No one can by any possibility mistake his body for 
himself. It is his, it is not he. This principle, then, 
which thinks and acts in the body, and which each 
person feels to be himself, we call the soul. We do 
not know what it is : it cannot be reached by any of the 
senses : we cannot see it or touch it. It has nothing in 
common with extension or form. To ask what shape the 
soul is, would be as absurd as to ask what is the shape 
of a thought, or a wish, or a regret, or a hope. And 
hence we call the soul spiritual and immaterial, and say 
that it has no parts, and is of no size at all. All this 
seems undeniable. Yet observe, if all this be true, what is 
meant by saying that it is in the body, any more than 


saying that a thought or a hope is in a stone or a tree ? 
How is it joined to the body? what keeps it one with 
the body ? what keeps it in the body ? what prevents it 
any moment from separating from the body? When 
two things which we see are united, they are united by 
some connexion which we can understand. A chain or 
cable keeps a ship in its place. We lay a foundation of 
a building in the earth, and the building endures. But 
what is it that unites soul and body ? how do they touch ? 
how do they keep together ? how is it that we do not 
wander to the stars, or to the depths of the sea, or to and 
fro as chance may carry us, while our body remains where 
it was on the earth ? So far from its being wonderful 
that the body one day dies, how is it that it is made to 
live and move at all ? how is it that it keeps from dying a 
single hour ? Certainly it is as incomprehensible as any 
thing can be, how soul and body can make up one man ; 
and unless we had the instance before our eyes, we 
should seem in saying so, to be using words without 
meaning. For instance, would it not be extravagant and 
idle to speak of time as deep or high, or of space as 
quick or slow. Not less idle, surely, it perhaps seems to 
some races of spirits, to say that thought and mind have 
a body, which in the case of man they have according to 
God's marvellous will. It is certain, then, that experience 
outstrips reason in its capacity of knowledge : why then 


should reason circumscribe faith, when it cannot compass 
sight ? 

2. Again : the soul is not only one, and without parts, 
but moreover, as if by a great contradiction given in 
terms, it is in every part of the body. It is nowhere, yet 
everywhere. It may be said, indeed, that it is especially 
in the brain ; but granting this, for argument's sake, yet it 
is quite certain, since every part of his body belongs to 
him, that a man's self is in every part of his body. No 
part of a man's body is like a mere instrument, as a knife 
or a crutch might be, which he takes up and may lay 
down. Every part of it is part of himself; it is connected 
into one by his soul, which is one. Supposing we take stones 
and raise a house, the building is not really one ; it is 
composed of a number of separate parts, which, viewed 
as collected together, we call one, but which are not one, 
except in our notion of them. But the hands and feet, 
the head and trunk, form one body under the presence of 
the soul within them. Unless the soul were in every 
part, they would not form one body ; so that the soul is 
in every part, uniting it with every other, though it con- 
sists of no part at all. I do not, of course, mean that 
there is any real contradiction in these opposite truths — 
indeed, we know that there is not and cannot be, because 
they are true — because human nature is a fact before us. 
But the state of the case is a contradiction w/ien put into 


words ; we cannot so express it as not to involve an ap- 
parent contradiction : and then, if we discriminate our 
terms, and make distinctions, and balance phrases, and 
so on, we shall seem to be technical, and artificial, and 
speculative, and to use words without meaning. Now 
this is precisely our case as regards the doctrine of the 
ever-blessed Trinity. We have never been in heaven. 
God, as He is in Himself, is hid from us. We are in- 
formed concerning Him by those who were inspired by 
Him for the purpose, nay, by His co-eternal Son Himself, 
who "knoweth the Father," when He came on earth. 
And in the message they delivered to us from above are 
declarations concerning His nature, which seem to run 
counter the one to the other. He is revealed to us as 
one God, the Father, one indivisible Spirit. Yet there 
is said to exist in Him from everlasting His only -begotten 
Son, the same as He is, and yet distinct, and from 
and in Them both from everlasting, and indivisibly, exists 
the co-equal Spirit. All this, put into words, seems a con- 
tradiction in terms : men have urged it as such ; then 
Christians, lest they should seem to be unduly and 
harshly insisting upon words which clash with each other, 
and so should dishonour the truth of God, and cause 
hearers to stumble, have limited their words, and classified 
them ; and then, for doing this, they have been accused of 
speculating and theorizing. The same result doubtless 


would take place in the parallel case already mentioned. 
Had we no bodies, and were a revelation made us that 
there was a race who had bodies as well as souls, what a 
number of powerful objections should we seem to possess 
against that revelation ! We might plausibly say, that the 
words used in conveying it were arbitrary and unmeaning. 
What (we should ask) was the meaning of saying that the 
soul had no parts, yet was in every part of the body ? 
What was meant by saying it was everywhere, and no- 
where ? How could it be one, and yet repeated, as it 
were, ten thousand times over every atom and pore of 
the body, which it was said to exist in ? How could it be 
confined to the body at all ? How did it act upon the 
body ? How happened it, as was pretended, that, when 
the soul did but will, the arm moved or the feet 
walked ? How can a spirit, which cannot touch anything, 
yet avail to move so large a mass of matter, and so 
easily, as the human body ? These are some of the ques- 
tions which might be asked, partly on the ground that 
the alleged fact was impossible, partly that the idea was 
self-contradictory. And these are just the kind of ques- 
tions with which arrogant and profane minds do assail 
the revealed doctrine of the Holy Trinity. 

3. Further consider what a strange state we are in 
when we dream, and how difficult it would be to convey 
to a person who had never dreamed what was meant by 


dreaming. His vocabulary would contain no words to 
express any middle idea between perfect possession and 
entire suspension of the mind's powers. He would ac- 
knowledge what it was to be awake, what it was to be 
insensible ; but a state between the two he would neither 
have words to describe, nor, if he were self-confident and 
arrogant, inclination to believe, however well it was 

attested by those who ought to know 

Now if we have mysteries even about ourselves, which 
we cannot even put into words accurately, much more 
may we suppose, even were we not told it, that there 
are mysteries in the nature of Almighty God ; and, so far 
from its being improbable that there should be mysteries, 
the declaration that there are, even adds some probability 
to the revelation which declareth them. On the other 
hand, still more unreasonable is disbelief, if grounded on 
the mysteriousness of the revelation, because if we cannot 
put into consistent human language human things, much 
less is there to surprise us if human words are insufficient 
to describe heavenly things. 


" What shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?" — Matt. xvi. 26. 

T SUPPOSE there is no tolerably-informed Christian 
but considers he has a correct notion of the differ- 
ence between our religion and the paganism it supplanted. 
Every one, if asked what it is we have gained by the 
Gospel, will promptly answer that we have gained the 
knowledge of our immortality, of our having souls which 
will live for ever ; that the heathen did not know this, 
but that Christ taught it, and that His disciples know it. 
Every one will say, and say truly, that this was the great 
and solemn doctrine which gave the Gospel a claim to be 
heard when first preached, which arrested the thoughtless 
multitudes who were busied in the pleasures and pursuits 
of this life, awed them with the vision of the life to come, 
and sobered them till they turned to God with a true 
heart. It will be said, and said truly, that this doctrine 
of a future life was the doctrine which broke the powei 
and the fascination of paganism. The poor benighted 


heathen were engaged in all the frivolities and absurdities 
of a false ritual which had obscured the light of nature. 
They knew God, but they forsook Him for the inventions 
of man ; they made protectors and guardians for them- 
selves ; and had " gods many, and lords many." They 
had their profane worship, their gaudy processions, their 
indulgent creed, their easy observances, their sensual 
festivities, their childish extravagances, such as might 
suitably be the religion of beings who were to live for 
seventy or eighty years, and then die once for all, never 
to live again. " Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we 
die," was their doctrine and their rule of life. " To- 
morrow we die." This the holy apostles admitted. They 
taught so far as the heathen, " To-morrow we die ;" but 
then they added, "And after death the judgment" — 
judgment upon the eternal soul, which lives in spite ot 
the death of the body. And this was the truth which 
awakened men to the necessity of having a better and 
deeper religion than that which had spread over the 
earth, when Christ came — which so wrought upon them 
that they left that old false worship of theirs, and it fell. 
Yes ! though throned in all the power of the world, a 
sight such as eye had never before seen; though sup- 
ported by the great and the many, the magnificence of 
kings and the stubbornness of people, it fell. Its ruins 
remain scattered over the face of the earth — the shattered 


works of its great upholder, that fierce enemy of God, the 
pagan Roman Empire. Those ruins are found even 
among ourselves, and show how marvellously great was 
its power, and therefore how much more powerful was 
that which broke its power ; and this was the doctrine of 
the immortality of the soul. So entire is the revolution 
which is produced among men wherever this high truth 
is really received. 

I have said that every one of us is able fluently to 
speak of this doctrine, and is aware that the knowledge 
of it forms the fundamental difference between our state 
and that of the heathen. And yet, in spite of our being 
able to speak about it, and our " form of knowledge " (as 
St. Paul terms it, Rom. ii. 20), there seems scarcely 
room to doubt that the greater number of those who are 
called Christians in no true sense realize it in their own 
minds at all. Indeed it is a very difficult thing to bring 
home to us, and to feel that we have souls ; and there 
cannot be a more fatal mistake than to suppose we see 
what the doctrine means as soon as we can use the 
words which signify it. So great a thing is it to under- 
stand that we have souls, that the knowing it, taken in 
connexion with its results, is all one with being serious, 
i.e., truly religious. To discern our immortality, is ne- 
cessarily connected with fear, and trembling, and re 
pentance, in the case of every Christian. Who is there 


but would be sobered by an actual sight of the flames 
of hell-fire and the souls therein hopelessly enclosed ? 
Would not all his thoughts be drawn to that awful sight, 
so that he would stand still gazing fixedly upon it, and 
forgetting everything else, seeing nothing else, hearing 
nothing, engrossed with the contemplation of it ; and when 
the sight was withdrawn, still having it fixed in his 
memory, so that he would be henceforth dead to the 
pleasures and employments of this world considered in 
themselves, thinking of them only in reference to that fearful 
vision ? This would be the overpowering effect of such 
a disclosure, whether it actually led a man to repentance 
or not. And thus absorbed in the thought of the life to 
come are those who really and heartily receive the words 
of Christ and His apostles. Yet to this state of mind, 
and therefore to this true knowledge, the multitude of 
men called Christians are certainly strangers. A thick 
veil is drawn over their eyes ; and, in spite of their being 
able to talk of the doctrine, they are as if they had never 
heard of it. They go on just as the heathen did of old ; 
they eat, they drink ; or they amuse themselves in vani- 
ties, and live in the world , without fear and without sor- 
row, just as if God had not declared that their conduct in 
this life would decide their destiny in the next ; just as if 
they either had no souls, or had nothing or little to do 
with the saving of them, which was the creed of the heathen. 


Now let us consider what it is to bring home to our- 
selves that we have souls, and in what the especial diffi- 
culty of it lies ; for this may be of use to us in our 
attempt to realize this awful truth. 

We are from our birth apparently dependent upon 
things about us. We see and feel that we could not live 
or go forward without the aid of man. To a child, this 
world is everything ; he seems to himself a part of this 
world — a part of this world in the same sense in which a 
branch is part of a tree ; he has little notion of his own 
separate existence ; that is, he has no just idea he has a 
soul. And if he goes through life with his notions un- 
changed, he has no just notion even to the end of life 
that he has a soul. He views himself merely in his con- 
nection with this world, which is his all ; he looks to this 
world for his good, as to an idol ; and when he has to 
look beyond this life, he is able to discern nothing in 
prospect, because he has no idea of anything, nor can 
fancy anything but this life. And if he is obliged to 
fancy something, he fancies this life over again ; just as 
the heathen, when they reflected on those traditions of 
another life which were floating among them, could but 
fancy the happiness of the blessed to consist in the 
enjoyment of the sun, and the sky, and the earth, as 
before, only as if these were to be more splendid than 
they are now. 


To understand that we have souls, is to feel our sepa- 
ration from things visible, our independence of them, our 
distinct existence in ourselves, our individuality, our 
power of acting for ourselves, this way or that way, our 
accountableness for what we do. These are the great 
truths which lie wrapped up indeed even in a child's 
mind, and which God's grace can unfold there, in spite of 
the influence of the external world ; but at first this out- 
ward world prevails. We look off Trom self to the things 
around us, and forget ourselves in them. Such is our 
state — a depending for support on the reeds which are 
no stay, and overlooking our real strength — at the time 
when God begins His process of reclaiming us to a truer 
view of our place in His great system of providence. 
And when He visits us, then in a little while there is a 
stirring within us. The unprofitableness and feebleness 
of the things of this world are forced upon our minds ; 
they promise, but cannot perform ; they disappoint us. 
Or, if they do perform what they promise, still (so it is) 
they do not satisfy us. We still crave for something, we 
do not well know what ; but we are sure it is something 
which this world has not given us. And then its changes 
are so many, so sudden, so silent, so continual. It never 
leaves changing j it goes on to change till we are quite 
sick at heart : then it is that our reliance on it is broken. 
It is plain we cannot continue to depend upon it unless 


we keep pace with it, and go on changing too ; but this 
we cannot do. We feel that while it changes we are one 
and the same ; and thus under God's blessing we come 
to have some glimpse of the meaning of our independence 
of things temporal, and our immortality. And should it 
so happen that misfortunes come upon us (as they often 
do), then still more are we led to understand the nothing- 
ness of this world ; then still more are we led to distrust 
it, and are weaned from the love of it, till at length it 
floats before our eyes merely as some idle veil, which, 
notwithstanding its many tints, cannot hide the view of 
what is beyond it ; and we begin by degrees to perceive 
that there are but two beings in the whole universe, our 
own soul, and the God who made it. 

Sublime, unlooked-for doctrine, yet most true ! To 
every one of us there are but two beings in the whole 
world, himself and God ; for, as to this outward scene, 
its pleasures and pursuits, its honours and cares, its con- 
trivances, its personages, its kingdoms, its multitude of 
busy slaves — what are they to us ? Nothing — no more 
than a show. " The world passeth away, and the lust 
thereof." And as to those others nearer us, who are not 
to be classed with the vain world, I mean our friends and 
relations, whom we are right in loving, these too, after all, 
are nothing to us here. They cannot really help or profit 
us ; we see them and they act upon us, only (as it were) 


at a distance, through the medium of sense. They can- 
not get at our souls ; they cannot enter into our thoughts 
or really be companions to us. In the next world it will, 
through God's mercy, be otherwise ; but here we enjoy 
not their presence, but the anticipation of what one day 
shall be ; so that, after all, they vanish before the clear 
vision we have, first of our own existence, next of the 
presence of the great God in us and over us, as our 
Governor and Judge, who dwells in us by our conscience, 
which is His representative. 

And now consider what a revolution will take place in 
the mind that is not utterly reprobate, in proportion as it 
realizes this relation between itself and the most high God. 
We never in this life can fully understand what is meant 
by living for ever ; but we can understand what is meant 
by this world's not living for ever, by its dying never to 
rise again. And learning this we learn that we owe it no 
service, no allegiance ; it has no claim over us, and can 
do us no material good or harm. On the other hand, 
the law of God written on our hearts bids us serve Him, 
and Scripture completes the precepts which Nature began. 
And both Scripture and conscience tell us we are 
answerable for what we do, and that God is a righteous 
judge; and above all, our Saviour, as our visible Lord 
God, takes the place of the world as the only-begotten 
of the Father, having shown Himself openly that we may 



not say that God is hidden. And thus a man is drawn 
forward by all sorts of powerful influences to turn from 
things temporal to things eternal, to deny himself, and to 
take up his cross and follow Christ. For there are 
Christ's awful threats and warnings to make him serious, 
His precepts to attract and elevate him, His promises to 
cheer Him, His gracious deeds and sufferings to humble 
him to the dust, and to bind his heart once and for ever 
in gratitude to Him who is so surpassing in mercy. All 
these things act upon him ; and as truly as St. Matthew 
rose from the receipt of custom when Christ called, 
heedless what bystanders would say of him, so they who 
through grace obey the secret voice of God, move 
onward contrary to the world's ways, and careless what 
mankind may say of them, as understanding that they 
have souls, which is the one thing they have to care 


Let us then seriously question ourselves, and beg of 
God grace to do so honestly, whether we are loosened 
from the world, or whether, living as dependent on it, 
and not on the Eternal Author of our being, we are in 
fact taking our portion with this perishing outward scene, 
and ignorant of our having souls. Let it be well under- 
stood, that to realize our own individual accountableness 
and immortality is not required of a person all at once. 
I never said a person was not in a hopeful way who did 


not thus fully discern the world's vanity and the worth 
of his soul. But a man is truly in a very desperate way 
who does not wish, who does not try to discern and 
feel all this. I want a man, on the one hand, to 
confess his immortality with his lips, and on the 
other, to live as if he tried to understand his own 
words, and then he is in the way of salvation; he is 
in the way towards heaven, even though he has not 
yet fully emancipated himself from the fetters of this 
world. Indeed, none of us (of course) are entirely 
loosened from this world. We all use words in speak* 
ing of our duties, higher and fuller than we really 

Oh, that there were such a heart in us, to put aside 
this visible world, to desire to look at it as a mere screen 
between us and God, and think of Him who has entered 
in beyond the veil, and who is watching us, trying us 
yet, and blessing, and influencing, and encouraging us 
towards good, day by day. And oh ! what a blessed 
discovery it is to those who make it, that this world is 
but vanity, and without substance, and that really they 
are ever in their Saviour's presence. He knows his 
blessedness, and needs not another to tell it him. He 
knows in whom he has believed; and in the hour of 
danger or trouble he knows what is meant by that peace 
which Christ did not explain when He gave it to His 


apostles, but merely said it was not as the world could 

" Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is 
stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye 
in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlast- 
ing strength " (Isaiah xxvi. 3, 4). 


"The spirit shall return unto God, who gave it." — Eccles. xii. 7. 

T T ERE we are told that upon death the spirit of man 
returns to God. The sacred writer is not speaking 
of good men only, or of God's chosen people, but of men 
generally. In the case of all men, the soul, when severed 
from the body, returns to God. God gave it ; He made 
it ; He sent it into the body, and He upholds it there. 
He upholds it in distinct existence wherever it is. It 
animates the body while life lasts ; it returns again — it 
relapses into the unseen state upon death. Let us 
steadily contemplate this truth, which at first sight we 
may fancy we altogether enter into. The point to be con- 
sidered is this : that every soul of man, which is or has 
been on earth, has a separate existence ; and that in 
eternity, not in time merely — in the unseen world, not 
merely in this — not only during its mortal life, but even 
from the hour of its creation, whether joined to a body 
of flesh or not. 


Nothing is more difficult than to realise that every 
man has a distinct soul — that every one of all the millions 
who live or have lived, is as whole and independent a 
being in himself as if there were no one else in the whole 
world but he. To explain what I mean. Do you think 
that a commander of an army realises it when he sends 
a body of men on some dangerous service ? I am not 
speaking as if he were wrong in so sending them ; I only 
ask, in matter of fact, does he, think you, commonly 
understand that each of those poor men has a soul, as 
dear to himself, as precious in its nature, as his own ? 
Or does he not rather look on the body of men collec- 
tively, as one mass, as parts of a whole, as but the 
wheels or springs of some great machine to which he 
assigns the individuality, not to each soul that goes to 
make it up ? 

This instance will show what I mean, and how open 
we all lie to the remark that we do not understand the 
doctrine of the distinct individuality of the human soul. 
We class men in masses, as we might connect the stones 
of a building. Consider our common way of regarding 
history, politics, commerce, and the like, and you will 
own that I speak truly. We generalize and lay down 
laws, and then contemplate these creations of our own 
minds, and act upon and towards them as if they were 
real beings, dropping what are more truly such. Take 


another instance. When we talk of national greatness, 
what does it mean ? Why, it really means that a certain 
distinct definite number of immortal individual beings 
happen for a few years to be in circumstances to act 
together and one upon another in such a way as to be 
able to act upon the world at large, to gain an ascen- 
dancy over the world, to gain power and wealth, and to 
look like one, and to be talked of and to be looked up 
to as one. They seem for a short time to be some one 
thing ; and we, from our habit of living by sight, regard 
them as one, and drop the notion of their being anything 
else. And when this one dies, and that one dies, we 
forget that it is the passage of separate immortal beings 
into an unseen state, that the whole which appears is 
but appearance, and that the component parts are the 
realities. No, we think nothing of this ; but though 
fresh and fresh men die, and fresh and fresh men are 
born, so that the whole is ever shifting, yet we forget all 
that drop away, and are insensible to all that are added : 
and we still think that this whole, which we call the 
nation, is one and the same, and that the individuals 
which come and go exist only in it and for it, and are 
but as the grains of a husk or the leaves of a tree. 

Or, again, survey some populous town. Crowds are 
pouring through the streets, some on foot, some in 
carriages ; while the shops are full, and the houses, too, 


could we see into them. Every part of it is full of life. 
Hence we gain a general idea of splendour, magnificence, 
opulence, and energy. But what is the truth ? Why, 
that every being in that great concourse is his own 
centre, and all things about him are but shades, but a 
" vain shadow," in which he " walketh and disquieteth 
himself in vain." He has his own hopes and fears, 
desires, judgments, and aims ; he is everything to him- 
self, and no one else is really anything. No one outside 
of him can really touch him — can touch his soul, his 
immortality ; he must live with himself for ever. He 
has a depth within him unfathomable, an infinite abyss 
of existence, and the scene in which he bears part for 
the moment is but like a gleam of sunshine upon its 

Again : when we read history, we meet with accounts 
of great slaughters and massacres, great pestilences, 
famines, conflagrations, and so on ; and here again we 
are accustomed in an especial way to regard collections 
of people as single individuals. We cannot understand 
that a multitude is a collection of immortal souls. 

I say immortal souls. Each of those multitudes not 
only had, while he was upon earth, but has a soul, which 
did in its own time but return to God who gave it, and 
not perish, and which now lives unto Him. All those 
millions upon millions of human beings who ever trod 


the earth, and saw the sun successively, are at this 
moment in existence all together. This, I think, you 
will grant we do not duly realize. All those Canaanites 
whom the children of Israel slew, every one of them is 
somewhere in the universe now at this moment, where 
God has assigned him a place. We read : " They utterly 
destroyed all that was in Jericho, young and old." Again, 
as to Ai : "So it was, that all that fell that day, both of 
men and women, were twelve thousand." Again: "Joshua 
took Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, Debir, 
and smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly 
destroyed all the souls that were therein." Every one of 
those souls still lives. They had their separate thoughts 
and feelings when on earth ; they have them now. 
They had their likings and pursuits, they gained what 
they thought good, and enjoyed it ; and they still some- 
where or other live, and what they then did in the flesh 
surely has its influence upon their present destiny. They 
live, reserved for a day which is to come, when all nations 
shall stand before God. 

But why should I speak of the devoted nations of 
Canaan, when Scripture speaks of a wider, more com- 
prehensive judgment, and in one place appears to hint at 
the present state of awful waiting in which they are who 
were involved in it ? What an overwhelming judgment 
was the Flood ! All human beings on the earth but eight 


were cut off by it. That old world of souls still lives, 
though its material tabernacle was drowned. Scripture, 
I say, signifies this ; obscurely indeed, yet still, as it 
appears, certainly. St. Peter speaks of "the spirits in 
prison," that is, then in prison, who had been " dis- 
obedient," " when once the long-suffering of God waited 
in the days of Noah." Those many, many souls, who 
were violently expelled from their bodies by the waters of 
the deluge, were alive two thousand years afterwards, 
when St. Peter wrote. Surely they are alive still. And 
so of all the other multitudes we may read of. All the 
Jews who perished in the siege of Jerusalem still live. 
Sennacherib's army still lives ; Sennacherib himself still 
lives ; all the persecutors of the Church that ever were 
are still alive. The kings of Babylon are still alive ; they 
are still as they are described by the prophet ; weak indeed 
now, and in " hell beneath," but having an account to 
give, and waiting for the day of summons. All who have 
ever gained a name in the world, all the mighty men of 
war that ever were, all the scheming aspirants, all the 
reckless adventurers, all the covetous traders, all the 
proud voluptuaries, are still in being, though helpless 
and unprofitable. Balaam, Saul, Joab, Ahithophel, good 
and bad, wise and ignorant, rich and poor, each has his 
separate place, each dwells by himself in that sphere of 
light or darkness which he has provided for himself here 


What a view this sheds upon history ! We are accustomed 
to read it as a tale of fiction, and we forget that it con- 
cerns immortal beings, who cannot be swept away, who 
are what they were, however this earth may change. 

And so again, all the names we see written on monu- 
ments in churches or churchyards. All the writers whose 
name and works we see in libraries ; all the workmen 
who raised the great buildings, far and near, which are 
the wonder of the world, they are all in God's remem- 
brance — they all live. 

It is the same with those whom we ourselves have 
seen, who are now departed. I do not now speak of 
those whom we have known and loved. These we 
cannot forget, we cannot rid our memory of them ; but 
I speak of all whom we have ever seen : it is also true 
that they live ; where, we know not, but live they do. 
We may recollect when children, perhaps, once seeing 
a person ; and it is almost like a dream to us now that 
we did. It seems like an accident, which goes and is all 
over, like some creature of the moment, which has no 
existence beyond it The rain falls, and the wind blows, 
and showers and storms have no existence beyond the 
time when we felt them ; they are nothing in themselves. 
But if we have but once seen any child of Adam, we have 
seen an immortal soul. It has not passed away as a 
breeze or sunshine, but it lives ; it lives at this moment 


in one of those many places, whether of bliss or misery, 
in which all souls are reserved unto the end. 

Or, again, let us call to mind those whom we knew a 
little better, though not intimately ; all who died suddenly 
or before their time ; all whom we have seen in high 
health and spirits ; all whom we have seen in circum- 
stances which, in any way, brought out their characters 
and gave them some place in our memories. They are 
gone from our sight, but they all live still, each with his 
own thoughts ; they are but waiting for the judgment. 

I think we shall say that these thoughts concerning 
others are not familiar to us, yet no one can say they are 
not just. And I think, too, that the thoughts concerning 
others, which are familiar to us, are not those which 
become believers in the Gospel ; whereas these which I 
have been tracing do become us, as tending to make us 
think less of this world, with its hopes and fears, its plans, 
successes, and enjoyments. 

Moreover, every one of all the souls which have ever 
been on earth, is, as I have already implied, in one of two 
spiritual states, so distinct from one another, that one is 
the subject of God's favour, and the other under His 
wrath ; the one in the way to eternal happiness, the other 
to eternal misery. This is true of the dead, and is true 
of the living also. All are tending one way or the other ; 
there is no middle or neutral state for any one, though as 


far as the sight of the external world goes, all men seem 
to be in a middle state common to one and all. Yet, 
much as men look the same, and impossible as it is for 
us to say where each man stands in God's sight, there 
are two, and but two, classes of men, and these have 
characters and destinies as far apart in their tendencies 
as light and darkness. This is the case even of those who 
are in the body, and it is much more true of those who 
have passed into the unseen state. 

No thought, of course, is more overpowering than that 
every one who lives or has lived is destined for endless 
bliss or torment. It is far too vast for us to realize. 
But what especially increases the mind's confusion, when 
it attempts to do so, is just this very thing which I have 
been mentioning, that there are but these two states, that 
every individual among us is either in one or the other. 
It is certainly quite beyond our understandings, that all 
men should now be living together as relatives, friends, 
associates, neighbours ; that we should be familiar or 
intimate with each other ; that there should be among us 
a general intercourse, circulation of thought, interchange 
of good offices, the action of mind upon mind, and will 
upon will, and conduct upon conduct ; and yet, after all, 
that there should be a bottomless gulf between us, running 
among us invisibly, and cutting us off into two parties ; 
not, indeed, a gulf impassable here, God be praised ! — 


not impassable till we pass into the next world — still 
really existing, so that every person we meet is in God's 
unerring eye either on the one side or the other ; and did 
He please to take him hence at once, would find himself 
either in Paradise or in the place of torment. Our Lord 
observes this concerning the Day of Judgment : " Two 
women shall be grinding at the mill ; the one shall be 
taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field ; 
the one shall be taken, and the other left." 

What makes this thought still more solemn is that we 
have reason to suppose that souls on the wrong side of 
the line are far more numerous than those on the right. 
It is wrong to speculate, but it is safe to be alarmed. 
This much we know, that Christ says expressly, " Many 
are called, few are chosen." " Broad is the way that 
leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in 
thereat f whereas, " Narrow is the way that leadeth to 
life, and few there be who find it." 

If, then, it is difficult, as I have said it is, to realize 
that all who ever lived still live, it is as difficult, at least, 
to believe that they are in a state either of eternal rest or 
eternal woe ; that all whom we have known, and who are 
gone, are, and that we who still live, were we now to die, 
should then at once be either in the one state or the 
other. Nay, I will say more. When we think seriously 
on the subject, it is almost impossible to comprehend, I 


do not say that a great number, but that any person 
whom we see before us, however unsatisfactory appearances 
may be, is really under God's displeasure, and in a state 

of reprobation. So hard is it to live by faith ! 

How blessed would it be if we really understood this ! what 
a change it would produce in our thoughts, unless we 
were utterly reprobate, to understand what and where we 
are — accountable beings on their trial, with God for their 
friend and the devil for their enemy, and advanced a 
certain way on their road either to heaven or to hell ! 
No truths, indeed, ever so awful, ever so fully brought 
home to the mind, will change it, if the love of God and 
of holiness be not there ; but none among us, as we may 
humbly trust, is in this reprobate state. One wishes to 
think that no one has so done despite to the Spirit of 
grace, and so sinned against the blood of the covenant, 
as to have nothing of his regenerate nature left to him ; 
no one among us, but if he shut his eyes to the external 
world, and opened them to the world within him, con- 
templated his real state and prospects, and called to mind 
his past life, would be brought to repentance and amend- 

Endeavour then, my brethren, to realize that you 
have souls, and pray God to enable you to do so. 
Endeavour to disengage your thoughts and opinions from 
the things that are seen ; look at things as God looks at 


them, and judge of them as He judges. Pass a very few 
years, and you will actually experience what as yet you 
are called on to believe. There will be no need of the 
effort of mind to which I invite you. When you have 
passed into the unseen state, there will be no need of 
shutting your eyes to this world, when this world has 
vanished from you, and you have nothing before you but 
the throne of God, and the slow but continual movements 
about it in preparation of the Judgment. In that interval, 
when you are in that vast receptacle of disembodied souls, 
what will be your thoughts about the world which you 
have left ? How poor will then seem to you its highest 
aims, how faint its keenest pleasures, compared with the 
infinite aims, the infinite pleasures, of which you will at 
length feel your souls to be capable ! O, my brethren ! 
let the thought be upon you day by day, especially when 
you are tempted to sin. Avoid sin as a serpent j it 
looks and promises well ; it bites afterwards. It is 
dreadful in memory, dreadful even on earth ; but in that 
awful period, when the fever of life is over, and you are 
waiting in silence for the Judgment, with nothing to 
distract your thoughts, who can say how dreadful may be 
the memory of sins done in the body ? Then the very 
apprehension of their punishment, when Christ shall 
suddenly visit, will doubtless outweigh a thousandfold 
their gratification, such as it was, which you felt in com- 


mitting them; and if so, what will be the proportion 
between it and that punishment, if, after all, it be actually 
inflicted ? Let us lay to heart our Saviour's own most 
merciful words. " Be not afraid," He says, " of them 
that kill the body, and after that have no more that they 
can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear. 
Fear Him which, after He hath killed, hath power to 
cast into hell. Yea, I say unto vou, fear Him." 



" While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things 
which are not seen : for the things which are seen are temporal ; 
but the things which are not seen are eternal." — 2 Cor. iv. 18. 

HPHERE are two worlds, " the visible and the invisible," 
as the Creed speaks — the world we see, and the 
world we do not see ; and the world we do not see as 
really exists as the world we do see. It really exists, 
though we see it not. The world we see we know to 
exist, because we see it. We have but to lift up our eyes 
and look around us, and we have proof of it : our eyes 
tell us. We see the sun, moon, and stars, earth and sky, 
hills and valleys, woods and plains, seas and rivers. And 
again, we see men, and the works of men ; we see cities 
and stately buildings, and their inhabitants, men running 
to and fro, and busying themselves to provide for them- 
selves and their families, or to accomplish great designs, 
or for the very business' sake. All that meets our eyes 
forms one world. It is an immense world ; it reaches to 


the stars. Thousands on thousands of years might we 
speed up to the sky, and, though we were swifter than the 
light itself, we should not reach them all. They are at 
distances from us greater than any that is assignable. So 
high, so wide, so deep is the world ; and yet it also comes 
near and close to us. It is everywhere j and it seems to 
have no room for any other world. 

And yet, in spite of this universal world which we see, 
there is another world quite as far-spreading, quite as 
close to us, and more wonderful; another world all 
around us, though we see it not, and more wonderful 
than the world we see, for this reason, if for no other, 
that we do not see it. All around us are numberless 
objects, coming and going, watching, working, or waiting, 
which we see not. This is that other world, which the 
eyes reach not unto, but faith only. 

Let us dwell upon this thought. We are born into a 
world of sense ; that is, of the real things which lie round 
about us one great department comes to us, accosts us 
through our bodily organs, and eyes, ears, and fingers. 
We feel, hear, and see them ; and we know they exist 
because we io thus perceive them. Things innumerable 
lie about us, animate and inanimate ; but one particular 
class of these innumerable things is thus brought home to 
us through our senses. Only, moreover, while they act 
upon us, they make their presence known. We are 


sensible of them at the time, or are conscious that we 
perceive them. We not only see, but know that we see 
them ; we not only hold intercourse, but know that we 
do. We are among men, and we know that we are. We 
feel cold and hunger ; we know what sensible things 
remove them. We eat, drink, clothe ourselves, dwell in 
houses, converse and act with others, and perform the 
duties of social life ; and we feel vividly that we are 
doing so while we do so. Such is our relation towards 
one part of the innumerable beings which lie around us. 
They act upon us, and we know it : we act upon them in 
turn, and know we do. 

But all this does not interfere with the existence of 
that other world which I speak of acting upon us, yet not 
impressing us with the consciousness that it does so. It 
may as really be present and exert an influence as that 
which reveals itself to us. And that such a world there 
is, Scripture tells us. Do you ask what it is, and what it 
contains ? I will not say that all that belongs to it is 
vastly more important than what we see, for among 
things visible are our fellow-men, and nothing created is 
more precious and noble than a son of man. But still, 
taking the things which we see altogether, the world we 
do not see is on the whole a much higher world than 
that which we do see. For, first of all, He is there who 
is above all things, who has created all, before whom 


they all are as nothing, and with whom nothing can be 
compared. Almighty God, we know, exists more really 
and absolutely than any of those fellow-men whose exist- 
ence is conveyed to us through the senses. Yet we see 
Him not, hear Him not, we do but " feel after Him," yet 
without finding Him. It appears, then, that the things 
which are seen are but a part, but a secondary part of 
the beings around us, were it only on this ground, that 
Almighty God, the Being of Beings, is not in their 
number, but among " the things which are not seen." 
Once, and once only, for three-and-thirty years, has He 
condescended to become one of the beings which are 
seen, when the Second Person of the ever-blessed Trinity 
was, by an unspeakable mercy, born of the Virgin Mary 
into this sensible world. And then He was seen, heard, 
handled ; He ate, He drank, He slept, He conversed, He 
went about, He acted as other men ; but excepting this 
brief period His presence has never been perceptible ; 
He has never made us conscious of His existence by 
means of our senses. He came, and He retired beyond 
the veil ; and to us individually it is as if He had never 
showed Himself; we have as little sensible experience of 
His presence. Yet " He liveth evermore." 

And in that other world are the souls also of the dead. 
They, too, when they depart hence, do not cease to exist, 
but they retire from this visible scene of things, or, in 


other words, they cease to act towards us and before us 
through our senses. They live as they lived before ; but 
that outward frame, through which they were able to 
hold communion with other men, is in some way, we 
know not how, separated from them, and dries away and 
shrivels up as leaves may drop off a tree. They remain, 
but without the usual means of approach towards us, and 
correspondence with us. As when a man loses his voice 
or hand, he still exists as before, but cannot any longer 
talk or write, or otherwise hold intercourse with us. So 
when he loses not voice and hand only, but his whole 
frame, or is said to die, there is nothing to show that he 
is gone ; but we have lost our means of apprehending 

Again : angels also are inhabitants of the world in- 
visible, and concerning them much more is told us than 
concerning the souls of the faithful departed, because 
the latter " rest from their labours," but the angels are 
actively employed among us in the Church. They are 
said to be " ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for 
them who shall be heirs of salvation." No Christian 
is so humble but he has angels to attend on him, if he 
lives by faith and love. Though they are so glorious, so 
pure, so wonderful, that the very sight of them (if we were 
allowed to see them) would strike us to the earth, as it 
did the prophet Daniel, holy and righteous as he was ; 


yet they are our " fellow-servants," and our fellow-workers, 
and they carefully watch over and defend even the 
humblest of us, if we be Christ's. That they form part of 
our unseen world appears from the vision seen by the 
patriarch Jacob. We are told that when he fled from 
his brother Esau, " he lighted upon a certain place, and 
tarried there all night, because the sun had set ; and he 
took of the stones of that place, and put them for his 
pillow, and lay down in that place to sleep." How little 
did he think that there was anything very wonderful in 
this spot ! It looked like any other spot. It was a lone, 
uncomfortable place ; there was no house there ; night 
was coming on ; and he had to sleep upon the bare rock. 
Yet how different was the truth ! He saw but the world 
that is seen ; he saw not the world that is not seen ; yet 
the world that is not seen was there. It was there, 
though it did not at once make known its presence, but 
needed to be supernaturally displayed to him. He saw 
it in his sleep. " He dreamed, and behold, a ladder set 
up on the earth, and the top of it reached up to heaven : 
and behold, the angels of God ascending and descending 
on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it." This was 
the other world. Now let this be observed. Persons 
commonly speak as if the other world did not exist now, 
but would after death. No ; it exists now, though we 
see it not. It is among us and around us. Jacob was 


shown this in his dream. Angels were all about him, 
though he knew it not. And what Jacob saw in his 
sleep, that Elisha's servant saw as if with his eyes ; and 
the shepherds, at the time of the Nativity, not only saw, 
but heard. They heard the voices of those blessed spirits 
who praise God night and day, whom we, in our lower 
state of being, are allowed to copy and assist. 

We are, then, in a world of spirits, as well as in a world 
of sense, and we hold communion with it, and take part 
in it, though we are not conscious of doing so. If this 
seems strange to any one, let him reflect that we are 
undeniably taking part in a child world, which we do 
indeed see, but about which we do not know more than 
about the angelic hosts — the world of brute animals. 
Can anything be more marvellous or startling, unless we 
were used to it. than that we should have a race of beings 
about us whom we do see, and as little know their state, 
or can describe their interests or their destiny, as we can 
tell of the inhabitants of the sun and moon ? It is, indeed, 
a very overpowering thought, when we get to fix our 
minds on it, that we familiarly use — I may say, hold 
intercourse with — creatures who are as much strangers to 
us, as mysterious, as if they w^re the fabulous, unearthly 
beings, more powerful than man, and yet his slaves, 
which eastern superstitions have invented. We have 
more real knowledge about the angels than about the 


brutes. They have, apparently, passions, habits, and a 
certain accountableness ; but all is mystery about them. 
We do not know whether they can sin or not, whether 
they are under punishment, whether they are to live after 
this life. We inflict very great sufferings on a portion of 
them, and they, in turn, every now and then seem to 
retaliate upon us, as if by a wonderful law. W T e depend 
on them in various important ways ; we use their labour, 
we eat their flesh. This, however, relates to such of 
them as come near us. Cast your thoughts abroad on 
the whole number of them, large and small, in vast 
forests, or in the water, or in the air; and then say 
whether the presence of such countless multitudes, so 
various in their natures, so strange and wild in their 
shapes, living on the earth without ascertainable object, 
is not as mysterious as anything which Scripture says 
about angels ? Is it not plain to our senses that there is 
a world inferior to us in the scale of beings, with which 
we are connected, without understanding what it is ? 
And is it difficult to faith to admit the word of Scripture 
concerning our connection with a world superior to us? . . . 
Men think they are lords of this world, and may do as 
they will. They think this earth their property, and its 
movements in their power ; whereas it has other lords 
besides them, and is the scene of a higher conflict than 
they are capable of conceiving. It contains Christ's 


little ones, whom they despise, and His angels, whom 
they disbelieve ; and these at length shall take possession 
of it, and be manifested. At present, " all things," to 
appearance, " continue as they were from the beginning 
of the creation f and scoffers ask, "Where is the promise 
of His coming ?" but at the appointed time there will be 
a " manifestation of the sons of God," and the hidden 
saints "shall shine out as the sun in the kingdom of their 
Father." When the angels appeared to the shepherds it 
was a sudden appearance — " Suddenly there was with the 
angel a multitude of the heavenly host." How wonderful 
a sight ! The night had before that seemed just like any 
other night, as the evening on which Jacob saw the vision 
seemed like any other evening. They were keeping 
watch over their sheep ; they were watching the night as 
it passed. The stars moved on. It was midnight. 
They had no idea of such a thing when the angel 
appeared. Such are the power and virtue hidden in 
things which are seen, and at God's will they are mani- 
fested. They were manifested for a moment to Jacob, 
for a moment to Elisha's servant, for a moment to the 
shepherds. They will be manifested for ever when Christ 
comes at the Last Day, " in the glory of His Father, with 
the holy angels f then this world will fade away, and 
the other world will shine forth. 

Let these be your thoughts, my brethren, especially in 


the spring season, when the whole face of Natuie is so 
rich and beautiful. Once only in the year, yet once, does 
the world which we see show forth its hidden powers, 
and in a manner manifest itself. Then the leaves come 
out, and the blossoms on the fruit trees and flowers, and 
the grass and corn spring up. There is a sudden rush 
and burst outwardly of that hidden life which God has 
lodged in the material world. 

Well, that shows, as by a sample, what it can do at 
God's command, when He gives the word. This earth, 
which now buds forth in leaves and blossoms, will one 
day burst forth into a new world of light and glory, in 
which we shall see saints and angels dwelling. Who 
would think, except from his experience of former springs 
all through his life — who could conceive two or three 
months before, that it was possible that the face of Nature, 
which then seemed so lifeless, should become so splendid 
and varied ? How different is a tree, how different is a 
prospect, when leaves are on it and off it ! How unlikely 
it would seem, before the event, that the dry and naked 
branches should suddenly be clothed with what is so bright 
and so refreshing ! Yet in God's good time leaves come 
on the trees. The season may delay, but come it will at last. 
So it is with the coming of that eternal spring for which 
all Christians are waiting. Come it will, though it delay , 
yet, though it tarry, let us wait for it, " because it mil 


surely come, it will not tarry." Therefore we say day by 
day, " Thy kingdom come," which means : O Lord, show 
Thyself; manifest Thyself; Thou that sittest between 
the cherubim, show Thyself; stir up Thy strength, and 
come and help us ! The earth that we see does not 
satisfy us ; it is but a beginning ; it is but a promise of 
something beyond it — even when it is gayest, with all its 
blossoms on, and shows most touchingly what lies in it ; 
yet it is not enough. We know much more lies hid in it 
than we see. A world of saints and angels, a glorious 
world, the palace of God, the mountain of the Lord of 
Hosts, the heavenly Jerusalem, the throne of God and 
Christ — all these wonders, everlasting, all-precious, myste- 
rious, and incomprehensible, lie hid in what we see. 
What we see is the outward shell of an eternal kingdom ; 
and on that kingdom we fix the eyes of our faith. Shine 
forth, O Lord, as when on Thy Nativity Thine angels 
visited the shepherds : let Thy glory blossom forth as 
bloom and foliage on the trees. Change with Thy mighty 
power this visible world into that diviner world, which as 
yet we see not. Destroy what we see, that it may pass 
and be transformed into what we believe. Bright as is the 
sun, and the sky, and the clouds ; green as are the leaves 
and the fields ; sweet as is the singing of the birds, -we 
know that they are not all ; and we will not take up with 
a part for the whole. They proceed from a centre of 


love and goodness, which is God Himself; but they are 

not His fulness ; they speak of heaven, but they are not 

heaven ; they are but as stray beams and dim reflections 

of His image ; they are but crumbs from the table. 

We are looking for the coming of the day of God, when 

all the outward world, fair though it be, shall perish ; 

when the heavens shall be burnt, and the earth melt 

away. We can bear the loss, for we know it will be but 

the removal of an evil. We know that to remove the world 

which is seen will be the manifestation of the world which 

is not seen. We know that what we see is as a screen hiding 

from us God and Christ, and His saints and angels. And 

we earnestly desire and pray for the dissolution of all that 

we see, from our longing after that which we do not see. 

O blessed they, indeed, who are destined for a sight of 

those wonders in which they now stand, at which they 

now look, but which they do not recognize. Those 

wonderful things of the new world are even now as they 

shall be then. They are immortal and eternal ; and the 

souls who shall then be made conscious of them will see 

them in their calmness and their majesty where they 

ever have been. But who can express the surprise and 

rapture which will come upon those who, having died in 

faith, wake up to enjoyment. The life then begun we know 

will last for ever : yet surely if memory be to us then 

what it is now, that will be a day much to be observed 


unto the Lord through all the ages of eternity. We may 
increase indeed for ever in knowledge and in love ; still 
that first waking from the dead, the day at once of our 
birth and our espousals, will ever be endeared and hal- 
lowed in our thoughts. When we find ourselves after 
long rest gifted with fresh powers ; vigorous with the seed 
of eternal life within us ; able to love God as we wish ; 
conscious that all trouble, sorrow, pain, anxiety, and 
bereavement, is over for ever ; blessed in the full affection 
of those earthly friends whom we loved so poorly and 
could protect so feebly, while they were with us in the 
flesh ; and above all, visited by the immediate, visible, in- 
effable presence of God Almighty, with His only begotten 
Son our Lord Jesus Christ, and His co-equal, co-eternal 
Spirit, that great sight in which is the fulness of joy and 
pleasure for evermore ; what deep, incommunicable, un- 
imaginable thoughts will be then upon us ! What depths 
will be stirred up within us ! What secret harmonies 
awakened, of which human nature seemed incapable ! 
Earthly words are indeed all worthless to minister to such 
high anticipations. Let us close our eyes and keep 
silence. " All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness there- 
of is as the flower of the field. The grass withereth, the 
flower fadeth, because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon 
it. Surely the people is grass ; the grass withereth, the 
flower fadeth, but the word of our God shall stand for ever." 


"\A/E naturally shrink from the thought of death, and of 
its attendant circumstances but all that is hateful 
about it will be fulfilled in our case, one by one. But all 
this is nothing compared with the consequences implied 
in it. Death stops us ; it stops our race. Men are 
engaged about their work, or about their pleasure ; they 
are in the city, or the field ; anyhow they are stopped ; 
their deeds are suddenly gathered in — a reckoning is 
made — all is sealed up till the great day. What a change 
is this ! In the words used familiarly in speaking of the 
dead, they are no more. They were full of schemes and 
projects ; whether in a greater or humbler rank, they 
had their hopes and fears, their prospects, their pursuits, 
their rivalries ; all these are now come to an end. One 
builds a house, and its roof is not finished ; another buys 
merchandize, and yet it is not sold. And all their 
virtues and pleasing qualities which endeared them to 
their friends are, as far as this world is concerned, 


vanished. Where are they who were so active, so 
sanguine, so generous ? the amiable, the modest, the 
kind ? We are told they are dead ; they suddenly dis- 
appeared ; that is all we know about it. They were 
silently taken from us ; they are not met in the seat of 
the elders, nor in the assemblies of the people ; in the 
mixed concourse of men, nor in the domestic retirement 
which they prized. As Scripture describes it, " The wind 
has passed over them, and they are gone, and their place 
shall know them no more." And they have burst the 
many ties which held them ; they were parents, brothers, 
sisters, children, and friends ; but the bond of kindred is 
broken, and the silver cord of love is loosed. They have 
been followed by the vehement grief of tears, and the 
long sorrow of aching hearts ; but they make no return, 
they answer not ; they do not even satisfy our wish to 
know that they sorrow for us as we for them. We talk 
about them thenceforth as if they were persons we do 
not know ; we talk about them as third persons ; whereas 
they used to be always with us, and every other thought 
which was within us was shared by them. Or perhaps, 
if our grief is too deep, we do not mention their names 
at all. And their possessions, too, all fall to others. 
The world goes on without them ; it forgets them. Yes, 
so it is ; the world contrives to forget that men have 
souls, it looks upon them all as mere parts of some great 


visible system. This continues to move on ; to this the 
world ascribes a sort of life and personality. When one 
or other of its members die, it considers them only as 
falling out of the system, and as come to nought. For a 
minute, perhaps, it thinks of them in sorrow, then leaves 
them — leaves them for ever. It keeps its eye on things 
seen and temporal. Truly whenever a man dies, rich or 
poor, an immortal soul passes to judgment ; but some- 
how we read of the deaths of persons we have seen or 
heard of, and this reflection never comes across us. 
Thus does the world really cast off men's souls, and 
recognizing only their bodies, it makes it appear as if 
" that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts, 
even one thing befalleth them ; as the one dieth so dieth 
the other ; yea, they have all one breath, so that a man 
hath no pre-eminence over a beast, for all is vanity." 

But let us follow the course of a soul thus casting oft 
the world, and cast off by it. It goes forth as a stranger 
on a journey. Man seems to die and to be no more, 
when he is but quitting us, and is really beginning to 
live. Then he sees sights which before it did not even 
enter into his mind to conceive, and the world is even 
less to him than he to the world. Just now he was lying 
on the bed of sickness, but in that moment of death what 
an awful change has come over him ! What a crisis for 
him \ There is stillness in the room that lately held him ; 



nothing is doing there, for he is gone, he now belongs to 
others ; he now belongs entirely to the Lord who bought 
him ; to Him he returns ; but whether to be lodged 
safely in His place of hope, or to be imprisoned against 
the great Day, that is another matter, that depends on 
the deeds done in the body, whether good or evil. And 
now what are his thoughts ? How infinitely important 
now appears the value of time, now when it is nothing to 
him ! Nothing ; for though he spend centuries waiting 
for Christ, he cannot now alter his state from bad to 
good, or from good to bad. What he dieth that he must 
be for ever ; as the tree falleth so must it lie. This is 
the comfort of the true servant of God, and the misery 
of the transgressor. His lot is cast once and for all, and 
he can but wait in hope or in dread. Men on their 
death-beds have declared that no one could form a right 
idea of the value of time till he came to die ; but if this 
has truth in it, how much more truly can it be said after 
death ! What an estimate shall we form of time while 
we are waiting for judgment ! Yes, it is we — all this, I 
repeat, belongs to us most intimately. It is not to be 
looked at as a picture, as a man might read a light book 
in a leisure hour. We must die, the youngest, the healthiest, 
the most thoughtless ; we must be thus unnaturally torn in 
two, soul from body ; and only united again to be made 
more thoroughly happy or to be miserable for ever. 


Such is death considered in its inevitable necessity, 

and its unspeakable importance — nor can we ensure to 

ourselves any certain interval before its coming. The 

time may be long; but it may also be short. It is plain 

a man may die any day ; all we can say is, that it is 

unlikely he will die. But of this, at least, we are certain, 

that, come it sooner or later, death is continually on the 

move towards us. We are ever nearer and nearer to it. 

Every morning we rise we are nearer that grave in which 

there is no work, nor device, than we were. Thus life is 

ever crumbling away under us. What should we say to 

a man, who was placed on some precipitous ground, 

which was ever crumbling under his feet, and affording 

less and less secure footing, yet was careless about it ? 

Or what should we say to one who suffered some 

precious liquor to run from its receptacle into the 

thoroughfares of men, without a thought to stop it ? who 

carelessly looked on and saw the waste of it becoming 

greater and greater every minute? But what treasure 

can equal time ? It is the seed of eternity : yet we suffer 

ourselves to go on, year after year, hardly using it at all 

in God's service, or thinking it enough to give Him at 

most a tithe or a seventh of it, while we strenuously 

and heartily sow to the flesh, that from the flesh we may 

reap corruption. We try how little we can safely give 

to religion, instead of having the grace to give abundantly. 


" Rivers of water run down mine eyes, because men keep 
not Thy law;" so says the Psalmist. Doubtless an 
inspired prophet saw far more clearly than we can see, 
the madness of men in squandering their treasure upon 
sin, which is meant to buy their chief good ; but if so, 
what must this madness appear in God's sight ! What an 
inveterate, malignant evil is it in the hearts of the sons 
of men, that this leads them to sit down to eat, and 
drink, and rise up to play, when time is hurrying on and 
judgment coming ? We have been told what He thinks 
of man's unbelief, though we cannot enter into the depth 
of His thoughts. He showed it to us in act and deed, as 
far as we could receive it, when He even sent His only- 
begotten Son into the world as at this time, to redeem us 
from the world, — which, most surely, was not lightly 
done ; and we also learn His thoughts about it from the 
words of that most merciful Son,— which most surely 
were not lightly spoken. " The wicked," He says, " shall 
go into everlasting punishment." 

Oh that there were such a heart in us that we would 
fear God, and keep His commandments always ! But 
it is of no use to speak j men know their duty— they will 
not do it. They say they do not need or wish to be told 
it, that it is an intrusion, and a rudeness, to tell them of 
death and judgment. So it must be,— and we, who 
have to speak to them, must submit to them. Speak we 


must, as an act of duty to God, whether they will hear, 
or not, and then must leave our words as a witness. 
Other means for rousing them we have none. We speak 
from Christ our gracious Lord, their Redeemer, who has 
already pardoned them freely, yet they will not follow 
Him with a true heart; and what can be done more ? 


/CHRISTIANITY, considered as a moral system, is 
made up of two elements, beauty and severity; 
whenever either is indulged to the loss or disparagement 
of the other, evil ensues. In heathen times, Greek and 
Barbarian in some sense divided these two between them ; 
the latter were the slaves of dreary and cruel superstitions, 
and the former abandoned themselves to a joyous poly- 
theism. And so again in these latter times, the two chief 
forms of heresy into which opposition to primitive truth 
has developed, were remarkable, at least in their origin, 
three hundred years ago, and at times since, the one for 
an unrefined and self-indulgent religiousness, the other for 
a stern, dark, cruel spirit, very unamiable, yet still inspir- 
ing more respect than the other. 

Even the Jews, to whom this earth was especially 
given, and who might be supposed to be at liberty without 
offence to satiate themselves in its gifts, were not allowed 
to enjoy it without restraint. Even the paschal lamb, 


their great typical feast, was eaten " with bitter herbs " 
(Exod. xii. 8). \nd, as time went on, the Prophets were 
given, who were more or less moulded after the pattern 
of Elijah, in " suffering affliction and in patience," and 
•vere typical of the one great Prophet of the Church who 
vas to come. Much more are Christians to recollect, and 
to rejoice, that ''the brother or low degree" is to be 
* exalted," and " the rich " to be " made low f and that 
tie Apostles, whose steps we are to follow, hungered and 
tiirsted, and were naked, and were buffeted, and had no 
crtain dwelling-place, and were accounted the filth of the 
vorld and the offscouring of all things. 

Let us thus enter upon the rich and happy months 
vhich lie before us, when the earth puts forth all her ex- 
cellence, and robes herself in her bright girments, and 
scatters her most precious gifts. Thus let us hallow 
Rogation Sunday, which is to-day, suitably to the Church's 
intention, which has made these days of abstinence attend 
upon it, by way of warning us that we must not enjoy 
our Father's temporal blessings without reserve. " He 
visiteth the earth and blesseth it ; He maketh it very 
plenteous. . . He provideth for the earth ; He watereth 
her furrows. He crowneth the year with His goodness, 
and His clouds drop fatness" (Psalm Ixv. 9-12). And 
we acknowledge His bountifulness, we commemorate His 
providence, we enter upon His gifts, by abstaining from 


their.. As the Israelites brought the first-fruits of their 
land in a basket (Deut. xxvi. i-n) and left it in the 
priest's hand before the altar of the Lord their God, so 
do we in another way, but in the same spirit, begin oui 
thankful use of God's blessings by a prudent delay and 2 
lowly prayer. We deprecate wrath, we intreat mercy ; as 
Job sacrificed for his sons, so we for ourselves. Wt 
remind ourselves, that though B every creature of God is 
good," we ourselves, God's creatures, are the one excep- 
tion to that rule; that though His gifts are holy ard 
innocent, our hearts are frail and wayward ; that they aie 
good in the sending, yet dangerous in the taking — gool 
in the use, but harmful in the enjoyment. As before 
meat, day by day, we say a grace and then begin, so nov 
do we ask a blessing on the whole year, by pausing ere 
we enter upon it. 

This is to feed ourselves with fear. Thus let us pro- 
ceed in the use of all our privileges, and all will be 
benefits. Let us not keep festivals without keeping 
vigils ; let us not keep Eastertide without observing 
Lent ; let us not approach the Sunday feast without 
keeping the Friday abstinence ; let us not adorn churches 
without studying personal simplicity and austereness ; let 
us not cultivate the accomplishments of taste and litera- 
ture without the corrective of personal discomfort ; let us 
not attempt to advance the power of the Church, to 


enthrone her rulers, to rear her palaces, and to ennoble 
her name, without recollecting that she must be mortified 
within while she is in honour in the world, and wear the 
Baptist's hair shirt and leathern girdle under the purple 
ephod and the jewelled breastplate. 

And let us beware, on the other hand, of dishonouring 
and rudely rejecting God's gifts, out of gloominess or 
sternness; let us beware of fearing without feasting. 
"Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be 
refused." Let us beware, though it must be a sad perver- 
sion of mind which admits of it, — let us beware' of afflict- 
ing ourselves for sin, without first coming to the Gospel 
for strength to do so. And let us not so plunge ourselves 
in the sense of our offences, as not withal to take delight 
in the contemplation of our privileges. Let us rejoice 
while we mourn. Let us look up to our Lord and 
Saviour the more we shrink from the sight of ourselves ; 
let us have the more faith and love the more we exercise 
repentance. Let us, in our penitence, not substitute the 
Law for the Gospel, but add the Law to the Gospel. 
Those who do despite to baptismal grace fall under the 
Law ; but they do not fall from the Gospel, if they are 
repentant ; they fall under the Law without the Gospel, if 
they continue in sin ; they receive the Law with the 
G 3spel, if they return. The Law which once introduced 
the Gospel, in such cases becomes its instrument. They 


fall indeed under bondage, but they have the power of 
Christ's grace to enable them to bear it. 

And in like manner, as they must not defraud them- 
selves of Christian privileges, neither need they give up 
God's temporal blessings. All the beauty of nature, the 
kind influences of the seasons, the gifts of sun and moon, 
and the fruits of the earth, the advantages of civilized 
life, and the presence of friends and intimates ; all these 
good things are but one extended and wonderful type of 
God's benefits in the Gospel. Those who aim at per- 
fection will not reject the gift, but add a corrective ; they 
will add the bitter herbs to the fatted calf and the music 
and dancing ; they will not refuse the flowers of earth, 
but they will toil in plucking up the weeds. Or if they 
refrain from one temporal blessing, it will be to reserve 
another ; for this is one great mercy of God, that while 
He allows us a discretionary use of His temporal gifts, He 
allows a discretionary abstinence also; and He almost 
enjoins upon us the use of some, lest we should forget 
that this earth is His creation, and no: of the evil one. 


/~\NE chief cause of the wickedness which is every- 
where seen in the world, and in which, alas ! each 
of us has more or less his share, is our curiosity to 
have some fellowship with darkness, some experience of 
sin, to know what the pleasures of sin are like. I believe 
it is even thought unmanly by many persons (though 
they may not like to say so in plain words), unmanly 
and a thing to be ashamed of, to have no knowledge of 
sin by personal experience, as if it argued a strange 
seclusion from the world, a childish ignorance of life, a 
singleness and narrowness of mind, and a superstitious, 
slavish fear. Not to know sin by experience brings 
upon a man the laughter and jest of his companions : 
nor is it wonderful this should be the case in the 
descendants of that guilty pair to whom Satan in the 
beginning held out admittance into a strange world of 
knowledge and enjoyment, as the reward of disobedience 
to God's commandment. " When the woman saw that 


the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to 
the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she 
took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave unto her 
husband with her, and he did eat." A discontent with 
the abundance of blessings which were given, because 
something was withheld, was the sin of our first 
parents : in like manner, a wanton roving after things 
forbidden, a curiosity to know what it was to be as the 
heathen, was the chief source of the idolatries of the 
Jews ; and we at this day inherit with them a like nature 
from Adam. 

I say curiosity strangely moves us to disobedience, in 
order that we may have experience of the pleasure of 
disobedience. Thus we " rejoice in our youth, and let 
our hearts cheer us in the days of our youth, and walk in 
the ways of our heart, and in the sight of our eyes." 
And we thus intrude into things forbidden, in various 
ways ; in reading what we should not read, in hearing 
what we should not hear, in seeing what we should not 
see, in going into company whither we should not go, in 
presumptuous reasonings and arguings when we should 
have faith, in acting as if we were our own masters when 
we should obey. We indulge our reason, we indulge 
our passions, we indulge our ambition, our vanity, our 
love of power; we throw ourselves into the society of 
bad, worldly, or careless men ; and all the while we think 


that, after having acquired this miserable knowledge of 
good and evil, we can return to our duty, and continue 
where we left off ; merely going aside a moment to shake 
ourselves, as Samson did, and with an ignorance like his, 
that our true heavenly strength is departed from us. 

Now this delusion arises from Satan's craft, the father 
of lies, who knows well that if he can get us once to sin, 
he can easily make us sin twice and thrice, till at length 
we are taken captive at his wilL He sees that curiosity 
is man's great and first snare, as it was in Paradise ; and 
he knows that if he can but force a way into his heart by 
this chief and exciting temptation, those temptations of 
other kinds, which follow in life, will easily prevail over 
us ; and, on the other hand, that if we resist the begin- 
nings of sin, there is every prospect through God's grace 
that we shall continue in a religious way. His plan of 
action, then, lies plain before him — to tempt us violently, 
while the world is new to us, and our hopes and feelings 
are eager and restless. Hence is seen the Divine wisdom, 
as well as the merciful consideration of the advice con- 
tained in so many parts of Scripture, as in the text, 
" Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not into 
the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from 
it, and pass away." 


r T , seek the praise of good men is not wrong, any 
more than to love and to reverence good men ; 
only wrong when it is in excess; when it interferes 
with exercise of love and reverence towards God. Not 
wrong while we look on good men singly as instruments 
and servants of God ; or, in the words of Scripture, while 
" we glorify God in them." But to seek the praise of 
bad men, is in itself as wrong as to love the company 
of bad men, or to admire them. It is not, I say, merely 
the love of praise that is a sin, but love of the corrupt 
world's praise. This is the case with all our natural 
feelings and affections ; they are all in themselves good, 
and implanted by God ; they are sinful, because we have 
in us by nature a something more than them, namely, 
an evil principle which perverts them to a bad end. 
Adam, before his fall, felt, we may suppose, love, fear, 
hope, joy, dislike, as we do now ; but then he felt them 
only when he ought, and as he ought ; always harmo- 


niously attempered and rightly adjusted in his soul, which 
was at unity with itself. But, at the fall, this beautiful 
order and peace was broken up ; the same passions 
remained, but their use and action were changed ; they 
rushed into extremes, sometimes excessive, sometimes 
the reverse. Indignation was corrupted into wrath, self- 
love became selfishness, self-respect became pride, and 
emulation envy and jealousy. They were at variance 
with each other ; pride struggled with self-interest, fear 
with desire. Thus his soul became a chaos, and needed 
a new creation. Moreover, his affections were set upon 
unsuitable objects. The natural man looks to this 
world, the world is his god ; faith, love, hope, joy, are 
not excited in his mind by things spiritual and divine, 
but by things seen and temporal. 

Considering, then, that love of praise is not a bad 
principle in itself, it is plain that a parent may very 
properly teach his child to love his praise, and fear his 
blame, when that praise, and blame are given in accord- 
ance with God's praise and blame, and made subservient 
to them. And, in like manner, if the world at large 
took a correct and religious view of things, then its 
praise and blame would in its place be valuable too. 
Did the world admire what God admires ; did it account 
humility, for instance, a great virtue, and pride a great 
sin ; did it condemn that spirit of self-importance and 


sensitiveness of disgrace, which calls itself a love of 
honour ; did it think little of temporal prosperity, wealth, 
rank, grandeur, and power ; did it condemn arrogant 
and irreverent disputing, the noisy, turbulent spirit oi 
ambition, the love of war and conquest, and the perverse 
temper which leads to jealousy and hatred; did it prefer 
goodness and truth to gifts of the intellect ; did it think 
little of quickness, wit, shrewdness, power of speech and 
general acquirements, and much of patience, meekness, 
gentleness, firmness, faith, conscientiousness, purity, for- 
giveness of injuries, — then there would be no sin in our 
seeking the world's praise ; and though we still ought 
to love God's praise above all, yet we might love the 
praise of the world in its degree, for it would be nothing 
more nor less than the praise of good men. But since, 
alas ! the contrary is the case, since the world (as Scrip- 
ture tells us) " lieth in wickedness," and the principles 
and practice which prevail on all sides of us are not 
those which the all-holy God sanctions, we cannot 
lawfully seek the world's praise. We cannot serve two 
masters who are enemies the one to the other. We are 
forbidden to love the world or anything that is of the 
world, for it is not of the father, but passeth away. 


ET me ask any one who has succeeded in any 
object of his desire, has he experienced in his 
success that full, that lasting satisfaction which he anti- 
cipated? Did not some feeling of disappointment, of 
weariness, of satiety, of disquietude, after a short time, 
steal over his mind ? I think it did ; and if so, what 
reason has he to suppose that that greater share of 
reputation, opulence, and influence, which he has not, 
and which he desires, would, if granted him, suffice to 
make him happy ? No ; the fact is certain, however 
slow and unwilling we may be to believe it, none of 
these things bring the pleasure which we beforehand 
suppose they will bring. Watch narrowly the persons 
who possess them, and you will at length discover the 
same uneasiness and occasional restlessness which others 
have ; you will find that there is just a something 
beyond, which they are striving after, or just some one 
thing which annoys and distresses them. The good 



things you admire please for the most part only while 
they are new ; now those who have them are accustomed 
to them, so they care little for them, and find no allevia- 
tion in them of the anxieties and cares which still 
remain. It is fine, in prospect and imagination, to be 
looked up to, admired, applauded, courted, feared, to 
have a name among men, to rule their opinions or their 
actions by our word, to create a stir by our movements, 
while men cry, " Bow the knee," before us , but none 
know so well how vain is the world's praise as he who 
has it. And why is this ? It is in a word, because the 
soul was made for religious employments and pleasures ; 
and hence, that no temporal blessings, however exalted 
or refined, can satisfy it. As well might we attempt to 
sustain the body on chaff, as to feed and nourish the 
immortal soul with the pleasures and occupations of 
the world. 

Much intercourse with the world, which eminence and 
station render a duty, has a tendency to draw off the 
mind from God, and deaden it to the force of religious 
motives and considerations. There is a want of sympathy 
between much business and calm devotion, great splen- 
dour and a simple faith, which will be to no one more 
painful than to the Christian to whom God has assigned 
some part of special responsibility and distinction. To 
maintain a religious spirit in the midst of engagements 


and excitements of this world is possible only to a saint ; 
nay, the case is the same though our business be one of 
a charitable and religious nature, and though our chief 
intercourse is with those whom we believe to have their 
minds set upon religion, and whose principles and con- 
duct are not likely to withdraw our feet from the narrow 
way of life. For here we are likely to be deceived from 
the very circumstance that our enjoyments are religious ; 
and our end, as being a right one, will engross us, and 
continually tempt us to be inattentive to the means and 
to the spirit in which we pursue it. Our Lord alludes to 
the danger of multiplied occupations in the parable of 
the sower : " He that received seed among thorns, is he 
that heareth the word, and the cares of this world and 
the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he 
becometh unfruitful." 

Again, these worldly advantages, as they are called, 
will seduce us into an excessive love of them. We are 
too well inclined by nature to live by sight, rather than 
by faith ; and besides the immediate enjoyment, there is 
something so agreeable to our natural tastes in the 
honours and emoluments of the world, that it requires 
an especially strong mind, and a large measure of grace, 
not to be gradually corrupted by them. We are led to 
set our hearts upon them, and in the same degree to 
withdraw them from God. We become unwilling to 


leave this visible state of things, and to be reduced to a 
level with those multitudes who are at present inferior to 
ourselves. Prosperity is sufficient to seduce, although 
not to satisfy. Hence death and judgment are unwel- 
come subjects of reflection to the rich and powerful; 
for death takes them from those comforts which habit has 
made necessary to them, and throws them adrift on a new 
order of things, of which they know nothing, save that in 
it there is no respect of persons. 


A SOBER mind never enjoys God's blessings to the 
full ; it draws back and refuses a portion to show 
its command over itself. It denies itself in trivial cir- 
cumstances, even if nothing is gained by denying but an 
evidence of its own sincerity. It makes trial of its own 
professions ; and if it has been tempted to say anything 
noble and great, or to blame another for sloth or 
cowardice, it takes itself at its word, and resolves to 
make some sacrifice (if possible) in little things as a price 
for the indulgence of fine speaking, or as a penalty on its 
censoriousness. Much would be gained if we adopted 
this rule even in our professions of friendship and service 
one towards another, and never said a word which we 
were not willing to do. 

There is only one place where the Christian allows 
himself to profess openly, and that is in church. Here, 
under the guidance of Apostles and Prophets, he says 
many things boldly, as speaking after them, and as 


before Him who searcheth the reins. There can be no 
harm in professing much directly to God, because, while 
we speak, we know He sees through our professions, and 
takes them for what they really are — prayers. How 
much, for instance, do we profess when we say the 
creed ? and in the collects we put on the full character of 
a Christian. We desire and seek the best gifts, and 
declare our strong purpose to serve God with our whole 
hearts. By doing this, we remind ourselves of our duty ; 
and withal, we humble ourselves by the taunt (so to call it) 
of putting upon our dwindled and unhealthy forms those 
ample and glorious garments which befit the " upright " 
and full-grown believer. 


•One thing have I desired of the Lord, which I will require, even 
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my 
life, to behold the fair beauty of the Lord, and to visit his 
temple." — Psalm xxvii. 4. 

PROPOSE to make some remarks on communion 
with God, or prayer in a large sense of the word : 
xot as regards its external consequences, but as it may- 
considered to affect our own minds and hearts. 
What, then, is prayer? It is (if it may be said re- 
verently) conversing with God. We converse with our 
fellow men, and then we use familiar language, because 
they are our fellows. We converse with God, and then 
we use the lowliest, awfullest, calmest, concisest lan- 
guage we can, because He is God. Prayer, then, is 
divine converse, differing from human as God differs from 
man. Thus St. Paul says : " Our conversation is in 
heaven;" not, indeed, thereby meaning converse of 
words only, but intercourse and manner of living 


generally ; yet still, in an especial way, converse of 
words or prayer, because language is the special means 
of all intercourse. Our intercourse with our fellow men 
goes on, not by sight, but by sound ; not by eyes, but by 
ears. Hearing is the social sense, and language is the 
social bond. In like manner, as the Christian's con- 
versation is in heaven, as it is his duty, with Enoch and 
other saints, to walk with God, so his voice is in heaven, 
his heart " inditing of a good matter " of prayers and 
praises. Prayers and praises are the mode of his inter- 
course with the next world, as the converse of business 
or recreation is the mode in which this world is carried 
on in all its separate courses. He who does not pray, 
does not claim his citizenship with heaven, but lives, 
though an heir of the kingdom, as if he were a child of 

Now, it is not surprising if that duty or privilege, 
which is the characteristic token of our heavenly in- 
heritance, should also have an especial influence upon 
our fitness for claiming it. He who does not use a gift, 
loses it ; the man who does not use his voice or limbs 
loses power over them, and becomes disqualified for the 
state of life to which he is called. In like manner, he 
who neglects to pray, not only suspends the enjoyment, 
but he is in the way to lose the possession of his divine 
citizenship. We are members of another world ; we 


have been severed from the companionship of devils, 
and brought into that invisible kingdom of Christ which 
faith alone discerns — that mysterious presence of God 
which encompasses us, which is in us, and around us ; 
which is in our heart, which enfolds us as though with a 
robe of light, hiding our scarred and discoloured souls 
from the sight of Divine Purity, and making them 
shining as the angels ; and which flows in upon us too by 
means of all forms of beauty and grace which this visible 
world contains, in a starry host, or, if I may so say, a 
Milky Way of divine companions, the inhabitants of 
Mount Zion, where we dwell. Faith, I say, alone 
apprehends all this ; and yet there is something which is 
not left to faith — our own tastes, likings, motives, and 
habits. Of these we are conscious in one degree, and 
we can make ourselves more and more conscious ; and 
as consciousness tells us what they are, reason tells us 
whether they are such as become, as correspond with, 
that heavenly world into which we have been translated. 
I say, then, it is plain to common sense that the man 
who has not accustomed himself to the language of 
heaven will be no fit inhabitant of it when, on the Last 
Day, it is perceptibly revealed. The case is like that of 
a language, or style of speaking, in this world ; we know 
well a foreigner from a native. Again, we know those 
who have been used to king's courts or educated society 


from others. By their voice, accent, and language, and 
not only so, by their gestures and gait, by their usages, 
by their mode of conducting themselves, and their prin- 
ciples of conduct, we know well what a vast difference 
there is between those who have lived in good society 
and those who have not. What, indeed, is called " good 
society," is often very worthless society. I am not 
speaking of it to praise it. I only mean, that as what 
men call refined or courtly manners are gained only by 
intercourse with courts and polished circles, and as the 
influence of the words there used (that is, of the ideas 
which those words, striking again and again on the ear, 
convey to the mind) extends in a most subtle way over 
all that men do — over the tone of their sentences, and 
the tone of their questions and replies, and their general 
bearing, and the spontaneous flow of their thoughts, and 
their mode of viewing things, and the general maxims or 
heads to which they refer them, and the motives which 
determine them and their likings and dislikings, hopes 
and fears, and their relative estimate of persons, and the 
intensity of their perceptions towards particular objects ; 
so a habit of prayer, the practice of turning to God and 
the unseen world in every season, in every place, in 
every emergency (let alone its supernatural effect of pre- 
vailing with God) — prayer, I say, has what may be called 
a natural effect in spiritualizing and elevating the soul. 


A man is no longer what he was before. Gradually — 
imperceptibly to himself — he has imbibed a new set of 
ideas, and become imbued with fresh principles. He is 
as one coming from kings' courts, with a grace, a deli- 
cacy, a dignity, a propriety, a justness of thought and taste, 
a clearness and firmness of principle, all his own. Such 
is the power of God's secret grace acting through those 
ordinances which he has enjoined us ; such the evident 
fitness of those ordinances to produce the results which 
they set before us. As speech is the organ cf human 
society, and the means of human civilization, so is prayer 
the instrument of divine fellowship and divine training. 


" Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not 
enter into the kingdom of heaven. " — Matt, xviii. 3. 

'"PHE longer we live in the world, and the further 
removed we are from the feelings and remembrances 
of childhood (and especially if removed from the sight of 
children), the more reason have we to recollect our 
Lord's impressive action and words when He called a 
little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of His 
disciples, and said, " Verily, I say unto you, Except ye 
be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not 
enter into the kingdom of heaven." And in order to 
remind us of this our Saviour's judgment, the Church, 
like a careful teacher, calls us back, year by year, upon 
this day, from the bustle and fever of the world. She takes 
advantage of the Massacre of the Innocents, recorded in 
St. Matthew's Gospel, to bring before us a truth which 
else we might think little of; to sober our wishes and 
hopes of this world, our high ambitious thoughts, or 


our anxious fears, jealousies, and cares, by the picture of 
the purity, peace, and contentment which are the cha- 
racteristics of little children. 

And independently of the benefit thus accruing to us, 
it is surely right and meet thus to celebrate the death of 
the Holy Innocents ; for it was a blessed one. To be 
brought near to Christ, and to suffer for Christ, is surely 
an unspeakable privilege ; to suffer anyhow, even uncon- 
sciously. The little children whom He took up in His 
arms were not conscious of His loving condescension, 
but was it no privilege when He blessed them ? Surely 
this massacre had in it the nature of a sacrament ; it was 
a pledge of the love of the Son of God towards those who 
were encompassed by it. All who came near Him more 
or less suffered by approaching Him — just as if earthly 
pain and trouble went out of Him as some precious 
virtue for the good of their souls — and these infants in 
the number. Surely His very presence was a sacrament ; 
every motion, look, and word of His conveying grace to 
those who would receive it ; and much more was fellow- 
ship with Him. And hence in ancient times such bar- 
barous murders and martyrdoms were considered as a 
kind of baptism, a baptism of blood with a sacramental 
charm in it which stood in the place of the appointed 
laver of regeneration. Let us, then, take these little 
children as in some sense martyrs, and see what 


instruction we may gain from the pattern of their in- 

There is very great danger of our becoming cold- 
hearted as life goes on : afflictions which happen to us, 
cares, disappointments, all tend to blunt our affections 
and make our feelings callous. That necessary self- 
discipline, too, which St. Paul enjoins Timothy to practise, 
tends the same way. And, again, the pursuit of wealth 
especially ; and much more if men so far openly transgress 
the word of Almighty God, as to yield to the temptations 
of sensuality. The glutton and the drunkard brutalize 
their minds, as is evident. And then, further, we are 
often smit with the notion of our having become greater 
and more considerable persons than we were. If we are 
prosperous, for instance, in worldly matters ; if we rise in 
the scale of (what is called) society; if we gain a name ; if 
we change our state by marriage, or in any other way, so 
as to create a secret envy in the minds of our companions ; 
in all these cases we shall be exposed to the temptation 
of pride. The deference paid to wealth or talent com- 
monly makes the possessor artificial and difficult to reach, 
glossing over his mind with a spurious refinement, which 
deadens feeling and heartiness. Now, after all, there is 
in most men's minds a secret instinct of reverence and 
affection for the days of their childhood. They cannot 
help sighing with regret and tenderness when they think 


of it ; and it is graciously done by our Lord and Saviour 
to avail Himself (so to say) of this principle of our nature, 
and, as He employs all that belongs to it, so to turn this 
also to the real health of the soul. And it is dutifully 
done on the part of the Church to follow the intimation 
given her by her Redeemer, and to hallow one day every 
year, as if for the contemplation of His word and deed. 

' If we wish to affect a person, and (if so be) humble 
him, what can we do better than appeal to the memory 
of times past, and, above all, to his childhood ? Then it 
was that he came out of the hands of God, with all 
lessons and thoughts of heaven freshly marked upon him. 
Who can tell how God makes the soul, or how He new 
makes it ? We know not. We know that, besides His 
part in the work, it comes into the world with the taint 
of sin upon it ; and that even regeneration, which removes 
the curse, does not extirpate the root of evil. Whether 
it is created in heaven or hell, how Adam's sin is breathed 
into it together with the breath of life, and how the Spirit 
dwells in it, who shall inform us ? But this we know full 
well — we know it from our own recollection of ourselves, 
and our experience of children — that there is in the 
infant soul, in the first years of its regenerate state, a 
discernment of the unseen world in the things that are 
seen, a realization of what is sovereign and adorable, and 
an incredulity and ignorance about what is transient 


and changeable, which mark it as the fit emblem of the 
matured Christian when weaned from things temporal, 
and living in the intimate conviction of the Divine 
Presence. I do not mean, of course, that a child has 
any formed principle in his heart, any habits of obedience, 
any true discrimination between the visible and the 
unseen, such as God promises to reward, for Christ's 
sake, in those who come to years of discretion. Never 
must we forget that, in spite of his new birth, evil is 
within him, though in its seed only ; but he has this one 
great gift, that he seems to have lately come from God's 
presence, and not to understand the language of this 
visible scene, or how it is a temptation, how it is a veil 
interposing itself between the soul and God. The sim- 
plicity of a child's ways and notions, his ready belief of 
everything he is told, his artless love, his frank confidence, 
his confession of helplessness, his ignorance of evil, his 
inability to conceal his thoughts, his admiring without 
coveting, and, above all, his reverential spirit, looking at 
all things about him as wonderful, as tokens and types of 
the One Invisible, are all evidence of his being lately (as 
it were) a visitant in a higher state of things. I would 
only have a person reflect on the earnestness and awe 
with which a child listens to any description or tale ; or, 
again, his freedom from that spirit of proud independence 
which discovers itself in the soul as time goes on. And 


though, doubtless, childien are generally of a weak and 
irritable nature, and all are not equally amiable, yet their 
passions go and are over like a shower, not interfering 
with the lesson we may gain to our own profit from their 
ready faith and guilelessness. 

The distinctness with which the conscience of a child 
tells him the difference between right and wrong should 
also be mentioned. As persons advance in life, and yield 
to the temptations which come upon them, they lose this 
original endowment, and are obliged to grope about by 
the mere reason. If they debate whether they should 
act in this way or that, and there are many considerations 
of duty and interest involved in the decision, they fee 1 
altogether perplexed. Really and truly, not from self- 
deception, but really, they do not know how they ought 
to act ; and they are obliged to draw out arguments and 
take a great deal of pains to come to a conclusion. And 
all this, in many cases at least, because they have lost 
through sinning a guide which they originally had from 
God. Hence it is that St. John, in the Epistle for the 
day, speaks of Christ's undefiled servants as " following 
the Lamb whithersoever He goeth." They have the 
minds of children, and are able by the light within them 
to decide questions of duty at once, undisturbed by the 
perplexity of discordant arguments 

In conclusion, I shall but remind you of the difference 



on the other hand between the state of a child and that 
of a matured Christian, though this difference is almost 
too obvious to be noticed. St. John says, "He that 
doeth righteousness, is righteous, even as He is righteous ;" 
and again, " Every one that doeth righteousness is born 
of Him." Now it is plain a child's innocence has no 
share in this higher blessedness. He is but a type of 
what at length is to be fulfilled in him. The chief beauty 
of his mind is on its mere surface ; and when, as time 
goes on, he attempts to act (as is his duty to do), instantly 
it disappears. It is only while he is still that he is like a 
tranquil water reflecting heaven. Therefore we must not 
lament that our youthful days are gone, or sigh over the 
remembrance of pure pleasures and contemplations which 
we cannot recall. Rather, what we were when children is a 
blessed intimation, given for our comfort, of what God 
will make us if we surrender our hearts to the guidance 
of His Holy Spirit — a prophecy of good to come — a fore- 
taste of what will be fulfilled in heaven. And thus it is 
that a child is a pledge of immortality, for he bears upon 
him in figure those high and eternal excellences in which 
the joy of heaven consists, and which would not be thus 
shadowed forth by the all-gracious Creator, were they 
not one day to be realized. 



" 'T'HE Voice of the Lord " is mighty in operation, the 
Voice of the Lord is a glorious Voice. It is not 
like some idle sound, or a vague rumour coming at 
random, and tending nowhither, but it is " the word 
which goeth out of His mouth ;" it has a sacramental 
power, being the instrument as well as the sign of His 
will. It never can " return unto Him void," " but it 
accomplishes that which He pleases, and prospers in the 
thing whereto He sends it." Imputed righteousness 
is the coming in of actual righteousness. They whom 
God's sovereign voice pronounces just, forthwith become 
just. He declares a fact, and makes it a fact by declar- 
ing it. He imputes, not a name, but a substantial word, 
which being " ingrafted " in our own hearts, " is able to 
save our souls." 

God's word, I say, effects what it announces. This is 
its characteristic all through Scripture. Thus in the 
beginning He said, " Let there be light, and there was 


light" Word and deed went together in creation ; and 
so again " in the regeneration," " The Lord gave the 
Word, great was the company of the preachers." So 
again in His miracles : He called Lazarus from the grave, 
and the dead arose ; He said, " Be thou cleansed," and 
the leprosy departed ; He rebuked the winds and waves, 
and they were still ; He commanded the evil spirits, and 
they fled away ; He said to St. Peter and St. Andrew, 
St. John, St. James, and St. Matthew, " Follow me," and 
they arose, for " His word was with power f and so 
again in the Sacraments His word is the consecrating 
principle. As He " blessed " the loaves and fishes, and 
they multiplied, so He " blessed and brake " and the 
bread became His body. Further, His voice is the 
instrument of destruction as well as of creation. As He 
" upholds all things by the word of His power," so " at 
the voice of the archangel and the trump of God," the 
visible world will dissolve ; and as His " voice " formerly 
" shook the earth," so once more " the Lord shall roar 
out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem, and the 
heaven and the earth shall shake." 

It would seem, then, in all cases, that God's word is 
the instrument of His deed. When, then, He solemnly 
utters the command, " Let the soul be just," it becomes 
just. By what medium or in what manner, is a further 
question not now to be discussed. Here it will be more 


in place to mention another analogy in God's dealings 
with us, which is instanced in the process of justification ; 
I mean the mode in which prophecy is introduced in 
Scripture, and the purposes it is made answer in sacred 
history. It has been noticed before now, as a cha- 
racteristic of Scripture prophecy, that it precedes and 
introduces into the world the great providences of God's 
mercy. When He would set apart a family or people 
for some extraordinary end, He reveals His purposes in 
the case of the first father of the line. He puts His 
word upon it in its origin, and seals up for it its destinies 
in that word, which, like some potent charm, works 
secretly towards the proposed end. Thus when the 
chosen people were to be formed, Almighty God not 
only chose Abraham, but spoke over him the promises 
which in due time were to be accomplished. The 
twelve tribes had each its own character and history 
stamped on it from the first. When the royal line of the 
Messiah was to be begun in Judah and renewed in 
David, on each patriarch in turn did Providence inscribe 
a prediction of what was to be. Such as this is justifica- 
tion as regards an individual. It is a sort of prophecy, 
recognising God's hidden election, announcing His pur- 
poses before the event, and mysteriously working towards 
their fulfilment ; even " the oath which He sware " to us, 
" more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the 


immutability of His counsel," " that we might have a 
strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold 
upon the hope set before us." And in thus openly 
setting forth what is secretly in course of operation, it is 
an appointment especially characteristic of that super- 
natural system which we called revealed religion. As 
God conducts His Scripture dispensations by prophecy, 
and anticipates nature by miracle, so does He in a 
parallel way operate upon our hearts through justifica- 


" Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear ; but ye 
have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, 
Father." — Rom. viii. 15. 

\\ THEN Adam fell, his soul lost its true strength, 
he forfeited the inward light of God's presence, 
and became the wayward, fretful, excitable, and miser- 
able being which his history has shown him to be ever 
since ; with alternate strength and feebleness, nobleness 
and meanness, energy in the beginning and failure in the 
end. Such was the state of his soul in itself, not to 
speak of the Divine wrath upon it which followed, or was 
involved in the Divine withdrawal. It lost its spiritual 
life and health which was necessary to complete its 
nature, and to enable it to fulfil the ends for which it was 
created — which was necessary both for its moral in- 
tegrity and its happiness ; and as if faint, hungry, or sick, 
it could no longer stand upright, but sank on the 
ground ! Such is the state in which every one of us Ues 


as born into the world ; and Christ has come to reverse 
this state, and restore us the great gift which Adam lost 
in the beginning. Adam fell from his Creator's favour 
to be a bond-servant ; and Christ has come to set us free 
again, to impart to us the Spirit of adoption, whereby we 
become God's children, and again approach Him as our 

I say, by birth we are in a state of defect and want ; 
we have not all that is necessary for the perfection of 
our nature. As the body is not complete in itself, but 
requires the soul to give it a meaning, so again the soul, 
till God is present with it and manifested in it, has 
faculties and affections without a ruling principle, object, 
or purpose. Such it is by birth, and this, Scripture 
signifies to us by many figures ; sometimes calling human 
nature blind, sometimes hungry, sometimes unclothed ; and 
calling the gift of the Spirit light, health, food, warmth, 
and raiment ; all by way of teaching us what our real state 
is, and what our gratitude should be to Him who has 
brought us into a new state. For instance : " Because 
thou sayest, I am rich and increased in goods, and have 
need of nothing ; and knowest not that thou art wretched, 
and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked ; I 
counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou 
mayest be rich ; and white raiment, that thou mayest be 
clothed, . . . and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that 


thou mayest see." Again : " God who commanded the 
light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts, 
to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in 
the face of Jesus Christ." Again : " Awake thou that 
sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give 
thee light." .... 

Now the doctrine which these passages contain is 
often truly expressed thus : that the soul of man is made 
for the contemplation of its Maker, and that nothing 
short of that high contemplation is its happiness; that 
whatever it may possess besides, it is dissatisfied till it is 
vouchsafed God's presence, and lives in the light of it. 
I say, then, that the happiness of the soul consists in the 
exercise of the affections ; not in sensual pleasures ; not 
in activity ; not in excitement ; not in self-esteem ; not in 
the consciousness of power ; not in knowledge. In none 
of these things lies our happiness, but in our affections 
being elicited, employed, supplied. As hunger and thirst, 
as taste, sound, and smell are the channels through 
which this bodily frame receives pleasure, so the affections 
are the instruments by which the soul has pleasure. 
When they are exercised duly, they are happy; when 
they are undeveloped, restrained, or thwarted, it is not 
happy. This is our real and true bliss — not to know, 
or to affect, or to pursue ; but to love, to hope, to joy, to 
admire, to revere, to adore. Our real and true bliss 


ties in the possession of those objects on which our 
Hearts may rest and be satisfied. 

Now, if this be so, here is at once a reason for saying 
that the thought of God, and nothing short of it, is the 
happiness of man ; for though there is much besides to 
serve as subject of excitement, yet the affections require 
a something more vast and more enduring than anything 
created. What is novel and sudden, exalts, but does not 
influence. What is pleasurable or useful raises no awe ; 
self moves no reverence, and mere knowledge kindles no 
love. He alone is sufficient for the heart who made it. 
I do not say, of course, that nothing short of the 
Almighty Creator can awaken and answer to our love, 
reverence, and trust ; man can do this for man. Man 
doubtless is an object to rouse his brother's love, and 
repays it in his measure. Nay, it is a great duty, one of 
the two chief duties of religion, thus to be minded 
towards our neighbour. But I am not speaking here of 
what we can do, or ought to do, but what it is our hap- 
piness to do ; and surely it may be said that though the 
love of the brethren, the love of all men, be one half of 
our obedience, yet exercised by itself, were that possible, 
which it is not, it were no part of our reward. And for 
this reason, if for no other, that our hearts require some- 
thing more permanent and uniform than man can be. 
We gain much for a time from fellowship with each 


other. It is a relief to us, as fresh air to the fainting, or 
meat and drink to the hungry, or a flood of tears to the 
heavy in mind. It is a soothing comfort to have those 
whom we may make our confidants ; a comfort to have 
those to whom we may confess our faults ; a comfort to 
nave those to whom we may look for sympathy. Love 
of home and family in these and other ways is sufficient 
to make this life tolerable to the multitude of men, 
which otherwise it would not be ; but still, after all, our 
affections exceed such exercise of them, and demand 
what is more stable. Do not all men die ? Are they 
not taken from us ? Are they not as uncertain as the 
grass of the field ? We do not give our hearts to things 
inanimate, because these have no permanence in them. 
We do not place our affections in sun, moon, and stars, 
or this rich and fair earth, because all things material 
come to nought, and vanish like day and night. Man, 
too, though he has an intelligence within him, yet in his 
best estate is altogether vanity. If our happiness con- 
sists in our affections being employed and recompensed, 
" man that is born of a woman " cannot be our happiness ; 
for how can he stay another who continueth not in one 
stay himself? 

But there is another reason why God alone is the 
happiness of our souls, to which I wish rather to direct 
attention. The contemplation of Him, and nothing but 


it, is able fully to open and relieve the mind, to unlock, 
occupy, and fix our affections. We may indeed love 
things created with great intenseness; but such affection, 
when disjoined from the love of the Creator, is like a 
stream running in a narrow channel, impetuous, ve- 
hement, turbid. The heart runs out, as it were, only at 
one door; it is not an expanding of the whole man. 
Created natures cannot open us, or elicit the ten 
thousand mental senses which belong to us, and through 
which we really live. None but the presence of our Maker 
can enter us ; for to none besides can the whole heart in 
all its thoughts and feelings be unlocked and subjected. 
" Behold," He says, " I stand at the door and knock ; if 
any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in 
to him and sup with him, and he with Me." " My Fathei 
will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our 
abode with him." " God hath sent forth the Spirit of His 
Son into your hearts." " God is greater than our heart, 
and knoweth all things." It is this feeling of simple 
and absolute confidence and communion which soothes 
and satisfies those to whom it is vouchsafed. We 
know that even our nearest friends enter into us but par- 
tially, and hold intercourse with us only at times : where- 
as the consciousness of a perfect and enduring Presence, 
and it alone, keeps the heart open. Withdraw the object 
on which it rests, and it will relapse again into its state 


of confinement and constraint ; and in proportion as it is 
limited either to certain seasons or to certain affections 
the heart is straitened and distressed. If it be not over 
bold to say it, He who is infinite can alone be its 
measure; He alone can answer to the mysterious as- 
semblage of feelings and thoughts which it has within it. 
" There is no creature which is not manifest in His sight, 
but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him 
with whom we have to do." .... 

I have been saying that our happiness consists in the 
contemplation of God; — only such a contemplation is 
capable of accompanying the mind always and every- 
where, for God alone can be always and everywhere 
present; and that what is commonly said about the 
happiness of a good conscience confirms this. For what is 
it to have a good conscience, when we examine the force 
of our words, but to be ever reminded of God by our own 
hearts, to have our hearts in such a state as to be led 
thereby to look up to Him, and to desire His eye to be 
upon us through the day ? It is the feeling attendant in the 
case of holy men on the contemplation of Almighty God. 

But, again, this sense of God's presence is not only the 
ground of the peace of a good conscience, but of the peace 
of repentance also. At first sight it may seem strange how 
repentance can have in it anything of comfort and peace. 
The Gospel, indeed, promises to turn all sorrow into joy. 


It makes us take pleasure in desolateness, weakness, and 
contempt. " We glory in tribulations also," says the 
Apostle, " because the love of God is shed abroad in our 
hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." It 
destroys anxiety : " Take no thought for the morrow, for 
the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. 1 ' 
It bids us take comfort under bereavement : " I would 
not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them which 
are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have 
no hope." But if there be one sorrow which might seem 
to be unmixed misery, if there be one misery left under 
the Gospel, the awakened sense of having abused the 
Gospel might have been considered that one. And, 
again, if there be a time when the presence of the Most 
High would at first sight seem to be intolerable, it would 
be then, when the consciousness vividly bursts upon us, 
that we had ungratefully rebelled against Him. Yet so 
it is that true repentance cannot be without the thought 
of God. It has the thought of God, for it seeks Him ; 
and it seeks Him because it is quickened with love, and 
even sorrow must have a sweetness if love be in it. For 
what is it to repent, but to surrender ourselves to God for 
pardon or punishment ; as loving His presence for its 
own sake, and accounting chastisement from Him better 
than rest and peace from the world ? While the prodigal 
son remained among the swine he had sorrow enough, 


but no repentance, remorse only; but repentance led 
him to rise and go to his father, and to confess his sins. 
Thus he relieved his heart of its misery, which before was 
like some hard and fretful tumour weighing upon it. . . . 
On the other hand, remorse, or what the apostle calls 
" the sorrow of the world," worketh death. Instead of 
coming to the Fount of Life, to the God of all consola- 
tion, remorseful men feed on their own thoughts, without 
any confidant of their sorrow. They disburthen them- 
selves to no one ; to God they will not, to the world they 
cannot confess ; the world will not attend to their con- 
fession ; it is a good associate, but it cannot be an inti- 
mate. It cannot approach us or stand by us in trouble ; 
it is no paraclete ; it leaves all our feelings buried within 
us, either tumultuous, or at best dead ; it leaves us 
gloomy or obdurate. Such is our state while we live in 
the world, whether we be in sorrow or in joy. We are 
pent up within ourselves, and are therefore miserable. 
Perhaps we may not be able to analyze our misery, or 
even to realise it, as persons oftentimes who are in bodily 
sicknesses. We do not know, perhaps, what or where 
our pain is ; we are so used to it that we do not call it 
pain. Still it is so ; we need a relief to our hearts, that 
they may be dark ar>d sullen no longer, or that they may 
not go on feeding upon themselves. We need to escape 
from ourselves to something beyond ; and much as we 


may wish it otherwise, and may try to make idols to our- 
selves, nothing short of God's presence is our true refuge ; 
everything else is either a mockery, or but an expedient 
useful for its season or in its measure. 

How miserable then is he who does not practically 
know this great truth ! Year after year he will be a more 
unhappy man, or at least he will emerge into a maturity 
of misery at once when he passes out of this world of 
shadows into that kingdom where all is real. He is at 
present attempting to satisfy his soul with that which is 
not bread, or he thinks the soul can thrive without 
nourishment. He fancies he can live without an object. 
He fancies that he is sufficient for himself; or he sup- 
poses that knowledge is sufficient for his happiness ; or 
that exertion, or that the good opinion of others, or 
what is called fame, or that the comforts and luxuries 
of wealth are sufficient for him. What a truly wretched 
state is that coldness and dryness of soul in which so 
many live and die, high and low, learned and unlearned ! 
Many a great man, many a peasant, many a busy man 
lives and dies with closed heart, with affections unde- 
veloped, unexercised. You see the poor man passing 
day after day, Sunday after Sunday, year after year, with- 
out a thought in his mind, to appearance almost like a 
stone. You see the educated man, full of thought, full ot 
intelligence, full of action, but still with a stone heart as 


cold and dead as regards his affections as if he were the 
poor ignorant countryman. You see others, with warm 
affections, perhaps, for their families, with benevolent 
feelings towards their fellow-men, yet stopping there, 
centering their heart on what is sure to fail them, as 
being perishable. Life passes, riches fly away, popularity 
is fickle, the senses decay, the world changes, friends die. 
One alone is constant ; One alone is true to us ; One alone 
can be true ; One alone can be all things to us ; One alone 
can supply our needs ; One alone can train us up to our 
full perfection; One alone can give a meaning to our 
complex and intricate nature ; One alone can give us tune 
and harmony ; One alone can form and possess us. Are 
we allowed to put ourselves under His guidance ? This 
surely is the only question. Has He really made us His 
children, and taken possession of us by His Holy Spirit ? 
Are we still in His kingdom of grace, in spite of our sins ? 
The question is not whether we should go, but whether 
He will receive. And we trust that, in spite of our sins, 
He will receive us still, every one of us, if we seek His 
face in love unfeigned and holy fear. Let us then 
do our part, as He has done His, and much more. Let 
us say with the Psalmist, " Whom have I in heaven but 
Thee? and there is none upon earth I desire in com- 
parison of Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth, but 
God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever." 


" I fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, 
for His body's sake, which is the Church." — Col. i. 24. 

' I "HE gospel which has shed light in so many ways 
upon the state of the world has aided especially our 
view of the sufferings to which human nature is subjected ; 
turning a punishment into a privilege, in the case of all 
pain, and especially of bodily pain, which is the most 
mysterious of all. Sorrow, anxiety, and disappointment 
are more or less connected with sin and sinners ; but 
bodily pain is involuntary for the most part, stretching 
over the world by some external irresistible law, reaching 
to children who have never actually sinned, and to the 
brute animals, who are strangers to Adam's nature ; while 
in its manifestations it is far more piteous and distressing 
than any other suffering. It is the lot of all of us sooner 
or later ; and that perhaps in a measure which it 
would be appalling and wrong to anticipate, whether 
from disease or from the casualties of life. And all of ua 


at length must die ; and death is generally ushered in by 
disease, and ends in that separation of soul and body 
which itself may, in some cases, involve peculiar pain. 

Worldly men put such thoughts aside as gloomy : they 
can neither deny nor avert the prospect before them : 
and they are wise, on their own principles, not to 
embitter the present by anticipating it. But Christians 
may bear to look at it without undue apprehension ; for 
this very infliction, which most touches the heart and 
imagination, has (as I have said) been invested by 
Almighty God with a new and comfortable light, as 
being the medium of His choicest mercies towards us. 
Pain is no longer a curse, a necessary evil to be under- 
gone with a dry submission or a passive endurance. It 
' may be considered even as a blessing of the Gospel, and 
being a blessing, admits of being met either well or ill. 
In the way of nature, indeed, it seems to shut out the 
notion of duty, as if so masterful a discipline from without 
superseded the necessity or opportunity of self-mastery. 
But now that " Christ hath suffered in the flesh," we are 
bound " to arm ourselves with the same mind," and to 
obey, as He did, amid suffering. 

Now, as to the effect of pain upon the mind, let it be 
well understood that it has no sanctifying influence in 
itself. Bad men are made worse by it. This should be 
borne in mind, lest we deceive ourselves ; for sometimes 


we speak (at least the poor often so speak) as though 
present hardship or suffering were in some sense a ground 
of confidence in ourselves as to our future prospects, 
whether as expiating our sins or bringing our hearts 
nearer to God. Nay, even the more religious among us 
may be misled to think that pain makes them better 
than it really does ; for the effect of it at length, on any 
but very proud or ungovernable tempers, is to cause a 
languor and composure of mind, which looks like resig- 
nation, while it necessarily throws our reason upon the 
especial thought of God, our only stay in such times of 
trial. Doubtless it does really benefit the Christian, and 
in no scanty measure ; and he may thank God who thus 
blesses it. Only let him be cautious of measuring his 
spiritual state by the particular exercise of faith and love 
in his heart at the time, especially if that exercise be 
limited to the affections themselves, and have no oppor- 
tunity of showing itself in work. St. Paul speaks of chas- 
tisement " yielding afterwards the peaceable fruit of right- 
eousness," formed indeed, and ripened at the moment, but 
manifested in due season. This may be the real fruit of 
the suffering of a death-bed, even though it may not 
have time to show itself to others before the Christian 
departs hence. Surely we may humbly hope that it 
perfects habits hitherto but partially formed, and blends 
the several graces of the spirit more entirely. Such is 


the issue of it in established Christians; but it may 
probably effect nothing so blessed. Nay, in the case of 
those who have followed Christ with but a half heart, it 
may be a trial too strong for their feebleness, and may 
overpower them. This is a dreadful reflection for those 
who put off the day of repentance. Well does our 
Church pray for us : " Suffer us not, at our last hour, for 
any pains of death to fall from Thee !" As for unbe- 
lievers, we know how it affects them, from such serious 
passages of Scripture as the following : " They gnawed 
their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of 
heaven because of their pains and their sores, and 
repented not of their deeds" (Rev. xvi. 10, n). 

Nay, I would go so far as to say, not only that pain 
does not commonly improve us, but that without care it 
has a strong tendency to do our souls harm ; viz., by making 
us selfish, an effect produced even when it does us good 
in other ways. Weak health, for instance, instead of 
opening the heart, often makes a man supremely careful 
of his bodily ease and well-being. Men find an excuse 
in their infirmities for some extraordinary attention to 
their comforts ; they consider they may fairly consult, on 
all occasions, their own convenience rather than that 
of another ; they indulge their wayward wishes, allow 
themselves in indolence when they really might exert 
themselves, and think they may be fistful because they 


are weak; they become querulous, self-willed, fastidious, 
and egotistical. Bystanders, indeed, should be very 
cautious of thinking any particular sufferer to be thus 
minded, because, after all, sick people have a multitude of 
feelings which they cannot explain to any one else, and 
are often in the right in those matters in which they 
appear to others most fanciful or unreasonable. Yet 
this does not interfere with the correctness of my remark 

on the whole 

The natural effect then, of pain and fear, is to indivi- 
dualize us in our own minds, to fix our thoughts on our- 
selves, to make us selfish. It is through pain, chiefly, that 
we realize to ourselves even our bodily organs ; a frame 
entirely without painful sensations is (as it were) one whole 
without parts, and prefigures that future spiritual body which 
shall be the portion of the saints. And to this We most 
approximate in our youth, when we are not sensible that 
we are compacted of gross terrestrial matter, as advancing 
years convince us. The young reflect little upon them- 
selves, they gaze around them, and live out of doors, 
and say they have souls, little understanding their words. 
" They rejoice in their youth." This, then, is the effect 
of suffering, that it arrests us ; that it, as it were, puts a 
finger upon us to ascertain for us our own individuality. 
Bat it does no more than this. If such a warning does 
not lead us, through the stirrings of our conscience, 


heavenwards, it does but imprison us in ourselves and 
make us selfish. 

Here then it is that the gospel finds us. Heirs to a 
visitation which, sooner or later, comes upon us, turning 
our thoughts from outward objects, and so tempting us 
to idolize self, to the dishonour of that God whom we 
ought to worship, and the neglect of man, whom we 
should love as ourselves. Thus it finds us, and it 
obviates this danger, not by removing pain, but by 
giving it new associations. Pain, which by nature 
leads us only to ourselves, carries on the Christian mind 
from the thought of self to the contemplation of Christ, 
His passion, His merits, and His pattern ; and thence, 
further to that united company of sufferers who follow 
Him, and " are what He is in this world." He is the 
great object of our faith ; and while we gaze upon 
Him we learn to forget ourselves. 

No one chooses evil for its own sake, but for the 
greater good wrought out through it. Jesus underwent 
it for ends greater than the immediate removal of it. 
" Not grudgingly or of necessity," but cheerfully doing 
God's will, as the Gospel history sets before us. When 
His time was come, we are told, " He steadfastly set His 
face to go to Jerusalem." His disciples said, " Master, 
the Jews of late sought to stone Thee, and goest Thou 
thither again ?" but He persisted. Again, He said to 


Judas, "What thou doest, do quickly." He proceeded 
to the garden beyond Cedron, though Judas knew the 
place ; and when the band of officers came to seize Him, 
" He went forth and said unto them, I am He." And 
with what calmness and majesty did He bear His suffer- 
ings when they came upon Him, though by His agony 
in the garden He showed He fully felt their keenness ! 
The Psalmist, in his prediction of them, says, " I am 
poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. 
My heart is like wax, it is melted f ' describing, as it 
would seem, that sinking of spirit and enfeebling of nerve 
which severe pain causes. Yet, in the midst of distress 
which seemed to preclude the opportunity of obedience, 
He asked questions of the doctors in the Temple ; not 
thinking to be merely passive under the trial, but ac- 
counting it as if a great occasion for a noble and severe 
surrender of Himself to His Father's will. Thus He 
"learned obedience by the things that He suffered." 
Consider the deep and serene compassion which led Him 
to pray tor those who crucified Him ; His solicitous care 
of His mother ; and His pardoning words addressed to 
the robber who suffered with Him. And so, when He 
said, " It is finished," He showed that He was still con- 
templating with a clear intellect " the travail of His soul, 
and was satisfied f and in the solemn surrender of Him- 
self into His Father's hand He showed where His mind 


rested in the midst of its darkness. Even when He 
seemed to be thinking of Himself, and said, " I thirst," 
He really was regarding the words of prophecy, and was 
bent on vindicating, to the very letter, the divine an- 
nouncements concerning Him. Thus, upon the cross 
itself, we discern in Him the mercy of a divine Messenger 
from heaven, the love and grace of a Saviour, the dutiful- 
ness of a son, the faith of a created nature, and the zeal 
of a servant of God. His mind was stayed upon His 
Father's sovereign will and infinite perfections, yet could 
pass, without effort, to the claim of filial duty or the 
need of an individual sinner. Six out of His seven last 
words were words of faith and love. For one instant a 
horrible dread overwhelmed Him, when He seemed to 
ask why God had forsaken Him. Doubtless " that voice 
was for our sakes," as when He made mention of His 
thirst ; and, like the other, was taken from inspired 
prophecy. Perhaps it was intended to set before us an 
example of a special trial to which human nature is 
subject, whatever was the real and inscrutable manner of 
it in Him, who was all along supported by an inherent 
divinity ; I mean the trial of sharp agony hurrying the 
mind on to vague terrors, and strange, inexplicable 
thoughts, and is, therefore, graciously recorded for our 
benefit in the history of His death, " Who was tempted 
in all points, like as we are, yet without sin." 


Such, then, were our Lord's sufferings, voluntarily 
undergone, and ennobled by an active obedience ; them- 
selves the centre of our hopes and worship, yet borne, 
without thought of self, towards God and for man. And 
who among us habitually dwells upon them but is led, 
without deliberate purpose, by the very warmth of grati- 
tude and of adoring love, to attempt bearing his own 
inferior trials in the same heavenly mind? Who does 
not see, that to bear pain well is to meet it courageously ; 
not to shrink or waver, but to pray for God's help, then 
to look at it steadfastly, to summon what nerve we have 
of mind or body to receive its attack, and to bear up 
against it (while strength is given us) as against some 
visible enemy in close combat ? Who will not acknow- 
ledge that when sent to us we must make its presence (as 
it were) our own voluntary act, by the cheerful and ready 
concurrence of our own will with the will of God ? Nay, 
who is there but must own, with Christ's sufferings before 
us, pain and tribulation are after all not only the most 
blessed, but even the most congruous attendants upon 
those who are called to inherit the benefit of them ? 
Most congruous, I say ; not as though necessary, but as 
most natural and befitting, harmonizing most fully with 
the main object in the group of sacred wonders on which 
the Church is called to gaze. Who, on the other hand, 
does not at least perceive that all the glare and gaudiness 


of this world, its excitements, its keenly-pursued goods, 
its successes and its transports, its pomp and its luxuries, 
are not in character with that pale and solemn scene 
which faith must ever have in its eye ? What Christian 
will not own that to " reign as kings," and to be " full," 
is not his calling ; so as to derive comfort in the hour of 
sickness, or bereavement, or other affliction, from the 
thought that he is now in his own place, if he be Christ's, 
in his true home, the sepulchre in which his Lord was 
laid. So deeply have His saints felt this, that, when 
times were peaceful and the Church was in safety, they 
could not rest in the lap of ease, and have secured to 
themselves hardnesses, lest the world should corrupt 
them. They could not bear to see the much-enduring 
Paul adding to his necessary tribulations a self-inflicted 
chastisement of the flesh, and yet allow themselves to live 
delicately and fare sumptuously every day. They saw 
the image of Christ reflected in tears and blood in the 
glorious company of the apostles, the goodly fellowship 
of the prophets, and the noble army of martyrs. They 
read in prophecy of the doom of the Church, as " a 
woman fed by God in the wilderness," and her wit- 
nesses as "clothed in sackcloth;" and they could not 
believe they were meant for nothing more but to enjoy 
the pleasures of this life, however innocent and moderate 
might be their use of them Without deciding about their 


neighbours, they felt themselves called to higher things ; 
their own sense of the duty became the sanction and 
witness of it. They considered that God at least would 
afflict them in His love, if they spared themselves ever 
so much. The thorn in the flesh, the bufferings of Satan, 
the bereavement of their eyes, these were their portion ; 
and in common prudence, were there no higher thought, 
they could not live out of time and measure with these 
expected visitations. With no superstitious alarms, or 
cowardly imagination, or senseless hurrying into diffi- 
culty or trial, but calmly, and in faith, they surrendered 
themselves into His hands who had told them in His 
inspired Word that affliction was to be their familiar 
food ; till at length they gained that distaste for the 
luxuries of life as to be impatient of them from their 
very fulness of grace. It was the temper too of such of 
the apostles as were removed more than their brethren 
from the world's buffetings, as if the prospect of suffer- 
ing afterwards were no dispensation for a present self- 
inflicted discipline, or rather demanded it. St. James the 
Less was Bishop of Jerusalem, and was highly venerated 
for his uprightness by the unbelieving Jews, among whom 
he lived unmolested. We are told that he drank no 
wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat any animal food, 
nor indulge in the luxury of the bath. " So often was 
he in the Temple on his knees, that they were thin and 


hard by his continual supplication." Thus he kept his 
" loins girded about, and his lamp burning," for the 
blessed martyrdom which was to end his course. Could 
it be otherwise ? How could the great apostle, sitting 
at home by his Lord's decree, " nourish his heart," as he 
calls it, "as for the slaughter." How could he eat and 
drink and live as other men, when " the Ark, and 
Israel, and Judah, were in tents," encamped in the open 
fields, and one by one God's chosen warriors were 
falling before the brief triumph of Satan ! How could 
he be " delicate on the earth, and wanton," when Paul 
and Barnabas, Peter too, and John, were in stripes and 
prisons, in labours and perils, in hunger and thirst, in 
cold and nakedness ! Stephen had led the army of 
martyrs in Jerusalem itself, which was his own post of 
service. James, the brother of John, had followed him in 
the same city ; he first of the apostles tasting our Lord's 
cup who had unwittingly asked to drink it. And if this 
was the feeling of the apostles when in temporary safety, 
why is it not ours, who altogether live at ease, except 
that we have not faith enough to realize what is past ? 
Could we see the cross upon Calvary, and the list of 
sufferers who resisted unto blood in the times that 
followed it, is it possible that we should feel surprised 
when pain overtook us, or impatience at its continuance ? 
Is it strange though we are smitten by ever so new a 


plague? Is it grievous that the cross presses on one 
nerve or limb ever so many years, till hope of relief is 
gone ? Is it indeed not possible, with the apostle, to 
rejoice in " bearing in our body the marks of the Lord 
Jesus ?" And much more can we, for very shame's sake, 
suffer ourselves to be troubled at what is but ordinary 
pain, to be irritated or saddened, made gloomy or 
anxious, by inconveniences which never could surprise or 
unsettle those who had studied and understood their 
place as servants of a crucified Lord ? 

Let us then determine with cheerful hearts to sacrifice 
unto the Lord our God our comforts, and pleasures, 
however innocent, when He calls for them, whether for 
the purpose of His Church, or in His own inscrutable 
Providence. Let us lend to Him a few short hours of 
present ease, and we shall receive our own with abundant 
usury in the day of His coming. There is a treasury in 
heaven stored with such offerings as the natural man 
abhors j with sighs and tears, wounds and blood, torture 
and death. The martyrs first began the contribution, 
and we all may follow them — all of us ; for every suffering, 
great or little, may, like the widow's mite, be sacrificed in 
faith to Him who sent it. Christ gave us the words of 
consecration, when He for an ensample said, " Thy will 
be done." Henceforth, as the apostle speaks, we may 
" glory in tribulation," as the seed of future glory. 


Meanwhile, let us never forget in all we suffer, that, 
properly speaking, our own sin is the cause of it, and it 
is only by Christ's mercy that we are allowed to range 
ourselves at His side. We who are children of wrath, 
are made through Him children of grace ; and our pains, 
which are in themselves but foretastes of hell, are changed 
by the sprinkling of His blood into a preparation for 


"Who maketh His angels spirits, His ministers a flaming fire." — 
Psalm civ. 4. 

'"PHERE have been ages of the world in which men 
have thought too much of angels, and paid them 
excessive honour; honoured them so perversely as to 
forget the supreme worship due to Almighty God. This 
is the sin of a dark age. But the sin of what is called an 
educated age, such as our own, is just the reverse : to ac- 
count slightly of them, or not at all ; to ascribe all we see 
around us, not to their agency, but to certain assumed 
laws of nature. This, I say, is likely to be our sin in 
proportion as we are initiated into the learning of this 
world ; and this is the danger of many (so called) phi- 
losophical pursuits, now in fashion, and recommended 
zealously to the notice of large portions of the community 
hitherto strangers to them — chemistry, geology, and the 
like ; the danger, that is, of resting in things seen and 
forgetting unseen things, and an ignorance about them. 



I will attempt to say what I mean more at length. 
The text informs us that Almighty God makes His 
angels spirits or winds, and His ministers a flame of fire. 
Let us consider what is implied in this. 

What a number of beautiful and wonderful objects 
does nature present on every side of us, and how 
little we know concerning tnem! In some, indeed 
we see symptoms of intelligence, and we get to form 
some idea of what they are. For instance, the brute 
animals we know little, but still we see they have sense, 
and we understand that their bodily form which meets 
the eye is but the index — the outside token of something 
we do not see. Much more in the case of men. We see 
them move, speak, and act, and we know that all we see 
takes place in consequence of their will, because they 
have a spirit within them, though we do not see it. But 
why do rivers flow? Why does rain fall? Why does 
the sun warm us ? And the wind, why does it blow ? 
Here our natural reason is at fault. We know, I say, that 
it is the spirit in man and in beast that makes man and 
beast move ; but reason tells us of no spirit abiding in 
what is commonly called the natural world, to make it 
perform its ordinary duties. Of course it is Goa's will 
which sustains it all ; so does God's will enable us to move 
also. Yet this does not hinder that, in one sense, we 
may be truly said to move ourselves. But how do the wind 


and water, earth and fire, move? Now here Scripture 
interposes, and seems to tell us that all this wonderful 
harmony is the work of angels. Those events which we 
ascribe to chance, as the weather, or to Nature, as the 
seasons, are duties done to that God who maketh His 
angels to be winds and His ministers a flame of fire. For 
example, it was an angel which gave to the pool at 
Bethesda its medicinal quality; and there is no reason 
why we should doubt that other health-springs in this and 
other countries are made such by a like unseen ministry. 
The fires on Mount Sinai, the thunders and lightnings, 
were the work of angels ; and in the Apocalypse we read 
of the angels restraining the four winds. Works of 
vengeance are likewise attributed to them. The fiery 
lava of the volcanoes, which (as it appears) was the 
cause of Sodom and Gomorrah's ruin, was caused by the 
two angels who rescued Lot. The hosts of Sennacherib 
were destroyed by an angel, by means (it is supposed) of 
a suffocating wind. The pestilence in Israel, when 
David numbered the people, was the work of an angel. 
The earthquake at the resurrection was the work of an 
angel. And in the Apocalypse the earth is smitten in 
various ways by angels of vengeance. 

Thus, as far as the Scripture communications go, we 
learn that the course of Nature, which is so wonderful, 
so beautiful, and so fearful, is effected by the ministry 


of these unseen beings. Nature is not inanimate; its 
daily toil is intelligent j its works are duties. Accordingly, 
the Psalmist says, " The heavens declare the glory of God, 
and the firmament showeth His handywork." " O Lord, 
Thy word endureth for ever in heaven. Thy truth also 
remaineth from one generation to another. Thou hast 
laid the foundation of the earth, and it abideth. They 
continue this day according to Thine ordinance, for ah 
tilings serve Thee." 

I do not pretend to say that we are told in Scripture 
what Matter is ; but I affirm, that as our souls move our 
bodies, be our bodies what they may, so there are 
spiritual intelligences which move those wonderful and 
vast portions of the natural world which seem to be 
inanimate ; and as the gestures, speech, and expressive 
countenance of our friends around us enable us to hold 
intercourse with them, so in the motions of universal 
Nature, in the interchange of day and night, summer 
and winter, wind and storm, fulfilling His word, we are 
reminded of the blessed and dutiful angels. Well, then, 
may we on this, the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, 
sing the hymn of those three holy children whom 
Nebuchadnezzar cast into the fiery furnace. The angels 
were bid to change the nature of the flame, and make it 
harmless unto them ; and they in turn called on all crea- 
tures of God, on the angels especially, to glorify Him. 


Though many hundreds of years have passed since that 
time, and the world now vainly thinks it knows more 
than it did, and that it has found the real causes of the 
things it sees, still may we say, with grateful and simple 
hearts, " O all ye works of the Lord, O ye angels of the 
Lord, O ye sun and moon, stars of heaven, showers and 
dew, winds of God, light and darkness, mountains and 
lulls, green things upon the earth, bless ye the Lord, 
praise Him, and magnify Him for ever." Thus, when- 
ever we look abroad, we are reminded of those most 
gracious and holy beings, the servants of the Holiest, 
who deign to minister to the heirs of salvation. Every 
breath of air and ray of light and heat, every beautiful 
prospect is, as it were, the skirts of their garments, 
the waving of the robes of those whose faces see 
Goa in heaven. And I put it to any one, whether it 
is not as philosophical, and as full of intellectual enjoy- 
ment, to refer the movements of the natural world to 
them, as to attempt to explain them by certain theories 
of science, useful as these theories certainly are for 
particular purposes, and capable (in subordination to that 

higher view) of a religious application 

Suppose an inquirer into Nature, when examining a 
flower, or a herb, or a pebble, or a ray of light, which he 
treats as something so beneath him in the scale of 
existence, suddenly discovered that he was in the 


presence of some powerful being who was hidden behind 
the visible things he was inspecting, who, though con- 
cealing his wise hand, was giving them their beauty, 
grace, and perfection, as being God's instrument for the 
purpose ; nay, whose robe and ornaments those wondrous 
objects were which he was so eager to analyse ; what 
would be his thoughts ? Should we but accidentally show 
a rudeness of manner towards our fellow man, tread on 
the hem of his garment, or brush roughly against him, 
are we not vexed, not as if we had hurt him, but from 
the fear we may have been disrespectful ? David had 
watched the awful pestilence three days, not with curious 
eyes, but doubtless with indescribable terror and remorse ; 
but when at length he lifted up his eyes and saw the 
angel of the Lord (who caused the pestilence) stand be- 
tween the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword 
in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem, then David 
and the elders, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon 
their faces. The mysterious irresistible pestilence be- 
came still more fearful when its cause was known ; and 
what is true of the painful, is true on the other hand of 
the pleasant and attractive operations of Nature. When, 
then, when we walk abroad, and " meditate in the field 
at eventide," how much has every herb and flower in 
it to surprise and overwhelm us ! For even, did we 
know as much about them as the wisest of men, yet there 


are those around us, though unseen, to whom our greatest 
knowledge is as ignorance ; and when we converse on 
subjects of Nature scientifically, repeating the names of 
plants and earths, and describing their properties, we 
should do so religiously, as in the hearing of the great 
servants of God, with the sort of diffidence which we 
always feel when speaking before the learned and wise of 
our own mortal race, as poor beginners in intellectual 
knowledge as well as in moral attainments. 

Now I can conceive persons saying that all this is fan- 
ciful. But if it appears so, it is only because we are not 
accustomed to such thoughts. Surely we are not told in 
Scripture about the angels for nothing, but for practical 
purposes. Nor can I conceive a use of our knowledge 
more practical than to make it connect the sight of this 
world with the thought of another ; nor one more con- 
solatory, for surely it is a great comfort to reflect that 
wherever we go, we have those about us who are 
ministering to all the heirs of salvation, though we see 
them not. In the Communion Service our Church 
teaches us to join our praises with that of " angels and 
archangels, and all the company of heaven," and the 
early Christians even hoped that they waited on the 
Church's seasons of worship, and glorified God with her. 
Nor are these thoughts without their direct influence on 
our faith in God and in His Son ; for the more we can 


enlarge our view of the next world the better. When 
we survey Almighty God surrounded by His Holy 
Angels, His thousand thousands of ministering spirits, 
and ten thousand times ten thousand standing before 
Him, the idea of His awful majesty rises before us more 
powerfully and impressively. We begin to see how little 
we are, how altogether mean and worthless in ourselves, 
and how high He is, and fearful. The very lowest of His 
angels is indefinitely above us in this our present state ; 
how high then must be the Lord of angels ! The very 
Seraphim hide their faces before His glory, while they 
praise Him; how shamefaced, then, should sinners be 
when they come into His presence ! 

Lastly, it is a motive to our exertions in doing 
the will of God, to think that, if we attain to heaven, 
we shall become the fellows of the blessed angels. 
Indeed, what do we know of the courts of heaven, 
but as peopled by them? And therefore doubtless 
they are revealed to us that we may have something to 
fix our thoughts on when we look heavenwards. Heaven 
indeed is the palace of Almighty God, and of Him 
doubtless we must think in the first place ; and again of 
His Son, our Saviour, who died for us, and who is 
manifested in the Gospels, in order that we may have 
something definite to look forward to. For the same 
cause also surely the angels are revealed to us, that 


heaven may be as little as possible an unknown place in 
our imaginations. 

Let us then entertain such thoughts as these of the 
angels of God; and while we try to think of them 
worthily, let us beware lest we make the contemplation 
of them a mere feeling, a sort of luxury of the imagina- 
tion. This world is to be a world of practice and 
labour ; God reveals to us glimpses of the third heaven 
for our comfort ; but if we indulge in these as the end of 
our present being, not trying day by day to purify our- 
selves for the future enjoyment of the realities, they 
become but a snare of the enemy. The services of 
religion day by day; obedience to God in our calling and 
in ordinary matters; endeavours to imitate our Saviour 
Christ in word and deed ; constant prayer to Him and 
dependence on Him — these are the due preparations for 
receiving and profiting by His revelations. 


*' And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great 
joy : and were continually in the Temple, praising and blessing 
God." — Luke xxiv. 52. 

TJ'OR forty days after His resurrection did our Saviour 
Christ continue to remain below, at a distance from 
that glory which He had purchased. The glory was now 
His — He might have entered into it. Had he not had 
enough of earth ? What should detain him here, instead 
of returning to His Father, and taking possession of His 
throne? He delayed in order to comfort and instruct 
those who had forsaken Him in the hour of trial. A 
time had ju^t passed when their faith had all but failed, 
even while they had His pattern before their eyes ; and 
a time, or rather a long period, was in prospect, when 
far heavier trials were to come upon them. Yet He was 
to be withdrawn. They hitherto understood not that 
suffering is the path to glory, and that none sit down 
upon Christ's throne who do not first overcome as He 


overcame. He stayed to impress upon them this lesson, 
lest they should still misunderstand the Gospel and fail 
a second time. " Ought not Christ," He said, " to suffer 
these things, and to enter into His glory ?" And having 
taught them fully, after forty days, at length He rose 
above the troubles of this world. He rose above the 
atmosphere of sin, sorrow, and remorse, which broods 
over it. He entered into the region of peace and joy, 
into the pure light, the dwelling-place of angels, the 
courts of the Most High, through which resound con- 
tinually the chants of blessed spirits and the praises of 
the Seraphim. There He entered, leaving His brethren 
in due season to come after Him, by the light of His 
example and the grace of His Spirit. 

Yet, though the forty days was a long season for Him 
to stay, it was but a short time for the apostles to have 
Him among them. What feelings must have been theirs 
when He parted from them ? So late found, so early 
lost again ; hardly recognized, and then snatched away. 
The history of the two disciples at Emmaus was a figure 
or picture of the condition of the eleven. Their eyes were 
holden that they should not know Him while He talked 
with them for three years ; then suddenly they were 
opened, and he forthwith vanished away. So had it been, 
I say, with all of them. " Have I been so long time 
with you, and yet hast thou not known Me,Philip?" had 


already been His expostulation with one of them. They 
had not known Him all through His ministry. Peter, 
indeed, had confessed Him to be the Christ, the Son of 
the living God ; but even he showed inconsistency and 
change of mind in his comprehension of this great truth. 
They did not understand at that time who and what He 
was. But after His resurrection it was otherwise. Thomas 
touched His hands and His side, and said, " My Lord 
and my God !" In like manner they all began to know 
Him. At length they recognized Him as the Living 
Bread which came down from heaven, and was the life 
of the world. But hardly had they recognized Him, 
when He withdrew Himself once for all from their sight, 
never to see them again or to be seen by them on earth ; 
never to visit earth again, till He comes at the last day 
to receive all saints unto Himself, and to take them to 
their rest. " So then, after the Lord had spoken unto 
them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the 
right hand of God." 

Late found, early lost. This perhaps was the Apostles' 
first feeling on His parting from them. And the like often 
happens here below. We understand our blessings just 
when about to forfeit them ; prospects are most hopeful 
just when they are most hopelessly clouded. Years upon 
years we have had great privileges, the light of truth, the 
presence of holy men, opportunities of religious improve- 


ment, kind and tender parents. Yet we knew not, or 
thought not of our happiness ; we valued not our gift ; 
and then it is taken away just when we have begun to 
value it. 

What a time must that forty days have been, during 
which, while He taught them, all His past teaching must 
have risen in their minds, and their thoughts then must 
have recurred in overpowering contrast to their thoughts 
now : His manner of life, His ministry, His discourses. 
His parables, His miracles, His meekness, gravity, 
incomprehensible majesty, the mystery of His thoughts 
and feelings; the agony, the scourge, the cross, the 
crown of thorns, the spear, the tomb ; their despair, their 
unbelief, their perplexity, their amazement, their sudden 
joy, their triumph. All this was in their minds, and 
surely not the least at that awful hour when He led His 
breathless followers out to Bethany on the fortieth day. 
" He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted 
up His hands and blessed them. And it came to pass 
while He blessed them, He was parted from them and 
carried up into heaven." Surely all His history, all His 
dealings with them, came before them, gathered up in 
that moment. Then, as they gazed upon that divine 
countenance and that dreadful form, every thought and 
feeling which they ever had had about Him, came upon 
them at once. He had gone through His work ; theirs 


was to come — their work and their sufferings. He was 
leaving them just at the most critical time. When 
Elijah went up, Elisha said, " My father, my father, the 
chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof!" With a 
like feeling might the apostles now gaze up into heaven, 
as if with the hope of arresting His ascent. Their Lord 
and their God, the light of their eyes, the stay of their 
hearts, the guide of their feet, was taken away. " My 
beloved had withdrawn Himself and was gone : my soul 
failed when He spake. I sought Him, but I could not 
find Him : I called Him, but He gave me no answer." 
Well might they use the Church's words, as now : " We 
beseech Thee, leave us not comfortless." O Thou who 
wast so gentle and familiar with us, who didst converse 
with us by the way, and sit at meat with us, and didst 
enter the vessel with us, and teach us on the Mount, and 
hear the malice of the Pharisees, and feast with Martha, 
and raise Lazarus, art Thou gone, and shall we see Thee 
no more? Yet so it was determined. Privileges they 
were to have, but not the same ; and their thoughts 
henceforth were to be of another kind than heretofore. 
It was in vain wishing back what was past and over. 
They were but told, as they gazed, " This same Jesus, 
which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come 
in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." 
Such are some of the feelings which the apostles may 


have experienced on our Lord's ascension ; but these are 
after all but human and ordinary, and of a kind which all 
of us can enter into. But other than these were sovereign 
with them at that solemn time ; for upon the glorious 
ascension of their Lord, "they worshipped Him," says 
the text, " and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and 
were continually in the Temple, praising and blessing 
God." Now, how was it, that when Nature would have 
wept, the apostles rejoiced ? There was no sorrow in 
the apostles in spite of their loss, in spite of the prospect 
before them, but " great joy," and " continued praise and 
blessing." May we venture to surmise that this rejoicing 
was the high temper of the brave and noble-minded, who 
have faced danger in idea, and are prepared for it? 
Christ in forty days trains His apostles to be bold and 
patient, instead of cowards. " They mourned and wept " 
at the beginning of the season, but at the end they are 
full of courage for the good fight ; their spirits mount 
high with their Lord, and when He is received out of 
their sight, and their own trial begins, " they return to 
Jerusalem with great joy, and are continually in the 
Temple, praising and blessing God." 

For Christ surely had taught them what it was to have 
their treasure in heaven ; and they rejoiced not that their 
Lord was gone, but that their hearts had gone with Him. 
Their hearts were no longer on earth, they were risen 


aloft. Before He was seized they had said to Him, 
" Lord, whither goest Thou ? Lord, we know not whither 
Thou goest." They could but follow Him to the grave, 
and there mourn, for they knew no better ; but now they 
saw Him ascend on high, and in spirit they ascended 
with Him. Mary wept at the grave because she thought 
enemies had taken Him away, and she knew not where 
they had laid Him. " Where your treasure is, there will 
your heart be also." Strengthened, then, with this know- 
ledge, they were able to face those trials which Christ 
had first undergone Himself, and had foretold as their 
portion. " Whither I go, : ' He had said to St. Peter, 
" thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shalt follow Me 
afterwards." And He told them, "They shall put you 
out of the synagogues. Yea, the time cometh that who- 
soever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." 
That time was now coming, and they were able to rejoice 
in what so troubled them forty days before. For they 
understood the promise, " To him that overcometh, will 
I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also over- 
came, and am sat down with My Father in His throne." 
It will be well if we take this lesson to ourselves, and 
learn that great truth which the apostles shrank from at 
first, but at length rejoiced in. Christ suffered, and 
entered into joy : so did they, in their measure, after 
Him : and in our measure, so do we. It is written, that 



" through much tribulation we must enter into the 
Kingdom of God." God has all things in His own 
hands. He can spare, He can inflict : He often spares 
(may He spare us still !), but He often tries us — in one 
way or another He tries every one. At some time or 
other of the life of every one there is pain, and sorrow, 
and trouble. So it is, and the sooner, perhaps, we can 
look upon it as a law of our Christian condition, the 
better. One generation comes, and then another. They 
issue forth and succeed like leaves in spring ; and in all, 
this law is observable. They are tried, and then they 
triumph ; they are humbled, and then are exalted ; they 
overcome the world, and then they sit down on Christ's 

throne Let us try to accustom ourselves to this 

view of the subject The whole church, all elect souls, each 
in its turn is called to this necessary work. Once it was the 
turn of others, and now it is our turn. Once it was the 
apostles' turn. It was St. Paul's turn once. He had all 
cares on him at once — covered from head to foot with 
cares, as Job was with sores. And, as if all this were not 
enough, he had a thorn in his flesh added — some personal 
discomfort ever with him. Yet he did his part well : he 
was as a strong and bold wrestler in his day, and at the 
close of it was able to say, " I have fought a good fight, 
I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." And 
at'tei mm, the excellent of the earth, the white-robed 


army of martyrs and the cheerful company of confessors, 
each in his turn, each in his day, likewise played the 
man. And so down to this very time, when faith has 
well-nigh failed, first one and then another have been 
called out to exhibit before the Great King. It is as 
though all of us were allowed to stand around His throne 
at once, and He called on first this man, and then that, 
to take up the chant by himself, each in his turn having 
to repeat the melody which his brethren have before gone 
through ; or as if He held a solemn dance to His honour 
in the courts of heaven, and each had by himself to 
perform some one and the same solemn and graceful 
movement at a signal given ; or as if it were some trial of 
strength, or of agility, and, while the ring of bystanders 
beheld and applauded, we in succession, one by one, 
were actors in the pageant. Such is our state. Angels 
are looking on. Christ has gone before. Christ has 
given us an example, that we may follow His steps. He 
went through far more, infinitely more, than we can be 
called to sutler. Our brethren have gone through much 
more, and they seem to encourage us by their success, 
and to sympathise in our essay. Now it is our turn, and 
all ministering spirits keep silence and look on. Oh, let 
not your foot slip, or your eye be false, or your ear dull, 
or your attention flagging ! Be not dispirited ; be not 
afraid ; keep a good heart ; be bold ; draw not back ; you 


will be carried through. Whatever troubles come on 
you, of mind, body, or estate ; from within or from 
without ; from chance or from intent ; from friends or 
foes ; whatever your trouble be ; though you be lonely, O 
children of a heavenly Father, be not afraid ! Quit you 
like men in your day ; and when it is over Christ will 
receive you to Himself, and your heart shall rejoice, and 
your joy no man taketh from you. Christ is already in 
that place of peace which is all in alL He is on the 
right hand of God — He is hidden in the brightness of the 
radiance which issues from the everlasting throne — He is 
in the very abyss of peace, where there is no voice of 
tumult or distress, but a deep stillness — stillness, that 
greatest and most awful of all goods which we can fancy — 
that most perfect of joys, the utter, profound ineffable 
tranquillity of the divine essence. He has entered 
into His rest. Oh, how great a good will it be, if, when 
this troublesome life is over, we in our turn also enter 
into that same rest ; if the time shall one day come 
when we shall enter into His tabernacle above, and hide 
ourselves under the shadow of His wings ! Here we are 
tossing upon the sea, and the wind is contrary. All 
through the day we are tried and tempted in various 
ways. We cannot speak, think, or act, but infirmity 
and sin are at hand. But in the unseen world, where 
Christ has entered, all is peace. "There is no more 


death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither any more pain ; 
for the former things are passed away." Nor any more 
sin ; nor any more guilt ; no more remorse ; no more 
punishment ; no more penitence ; no more trial ; no 
infirmity to depress us ; no affection to mislead us ; no 
passion to transport us ; no prejudice to blind us ; no 
sloth, no pride, no envy, no strife ; but the light of God's 
countenance, and a pure river of water of life, clear as 
crystal, proceeding out of the throne. That is our home. 
Here we are but on pilgrimage, and Christ is calling us 
home. He calls us to His many mansions, which He 
has prepared. And the Spirit and the Bride call us too, 
and all things will be ready for us by the time of our 
coming. "Seeing, then, that we have a great High 
Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of 
God, let us hold fast our profession f seeing we have 
"so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every 
weight f " let us labour to enter into our rest f " let us 
come boldly unto the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain 
mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." 


"The kingdom of God cometh not with observation." — 
Luke xvii. 20. 

T^PIE event in our Saviour's infancy which we this day 
celebrate, is His presentation in the Temple, when 
His Virgin Mother was ceremonially purified. It was 
made memorable at the time by the hymns and praises of 
Simeon and Anna, to whom He was then revealed. And 
there were others besides these, who had been " looking 
for redemption in Jerusalem," who were also vouchsafed 
a sight of the Infant Saviour. But the chief importance 
of this event consists in its being a fulfilment of pro- 
phecy. Malachi had announced the Lord's visitation of 
His Temple in these words : "The Lord, whom ye seek, 
shall suddenly come to His Temple f words which, 
though variously fulfilled during His ministry, had their 
first accomplishment in the humble ceremony com- 
memorated on this day. And when we consider the 
grandeur of the prediction, and how unostentatious this 


accomplishment was, we are led to muse upon God's 
ways, and to draw useful lessons for ourselves. 

I say, we are to-day reminded of the noiseless course 
of God's providence ; His tranquil accomplishment in the 
course of nature of great events, long designed ; and again, 
the suddenness and stillness of His visitations. Consider 
what the occurrence in question consists in. A little 
child is brought to the Temple, as all first-born children 
were brought. There is nothing here uncommon or 
striking, so far. His parents are with Him, poor people, 
bringing the offering of pigeons or doves, for the purifi- 
cation of the mother. They are met in the Temple by 
an old man, who takes the child in his arms, offers a 
thanksgiving to God, and blesses the parents ; and next 
are joined by a woman of a great age, a widow of eighty- 
four years, who had exceeded the time of useful service, 
and seemed to be but a fit prey for death. She gives 
thanks also, and speaks concerning the child to other per- 
sons who are present. Then all retire. 

Now there is evidently nothing great or impressive 
in this ; nothing to excite the feelings or interest the 
imagination. We know what the world thinks of such a 
group as I have described. The weak and helpless, 
whether from age or infancy, it looks upon negligently 
and passes by. Yet all this that happened was really the 
solemn fulfilment of an ancient and emphatic prophecy, 


The infant in arms was the Savioui of the world, the 
rightful heir come in the guise of a stranger to visit 
His own house. The Scripture had said : " The Lord, 
whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His Temple ; but 
who may abide the day of His coming ? and who may 
stand when He appeareth ?" He had now taken posses- 
sion. And further, the old man who took the child in 
his arms had upon him gifts of the Holy Ghost; had 
been promised the blessed sight of his Lord before his 
death ; came into the Temple by heavenly guidance, and 
now had within him thoughts unutterable, of joy, thank- 
fulness, and hope, strangely mixed with awe, fear, painful 
wonder, and " bitterness of spirit." Anna too, the woman 
of four score and four years, was a prophetess ; and the 
bystanders to whom she spoke were the true Israel, who 
were looking out in faith for the predicted redemption of 
mankind, those who (in the words of the prophecy) 
" sought," and in prospect " delighted " in the " mes- 
senger " of God's covenant of mercy. " The glory of this 
latter house shall be greater than of the former," was the 
announcement of another prophecy. Behold the glory ! 
A little child and his parents, two aged persons, and a 
congregation without name or memorial. " The kingdom 
of God cometh not with observation." 

Such has ever been the manner of His visitations, in 
the destruction of His enemies as well as in the deliver 


ance of His own people ; silent, sudden, unforeseen, as 
regards the world, though predicted in the face of all 
men, and in their measure comprehended and waited for 
by His true Church. Such a visitation was the flood. 
Noah, a preacher of righteousness, but the multitude of 
sinners judicially blinded. " They did eat, they drank, 
they married wives, they were given in marriage, until 
the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood 
came and destroyed them all." Such was the overthrow 
of Sodom and Gomorrah. " Likewise as it was in the 
days of Lot, they did eat, they drank, they bought, they 
sold, they planted, they builded ; but the same day that 
Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone 
from heaven, and destroyed them all." Again : " The 
horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his 
horsemen into the sea ; and the Lord brought again the 
waters of the sea upon them." The overthrow of Senna- 
cherib was also silent and sudden, when his vast army 
least expected it. " The angel of the Lord went forth 
and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred four 
score and five thousand." Belshazzar and Babylon were 
surprised in the midst of the king's great feast to his 
thousand lords. While Nebuchadnezzar boasted, his 
reason was suddenly taken from him. While the multi- 
tude shouted with impious flattery at Herod's speech, 
then " the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave 


not God the glory." Whether we take the first or the 
final judgment upon Jerusalem, both visitations were 
foretold as sudden. Of the former, Isaiah had declared 
it should come "suddenly — at an instant." Of the 
latter, Malachi : " The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly 
come to His Temple." And such too will be His final 
visitation of the whole earth. Men will be at their work, 
in the city and in the field, and it will overtake them like 
a thunder-cloud. "Two women shall be grinding to- 
gether ; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two 
men shall be in the field ; the one shall be taken, and 
the other left." 

And it is impossible that it should be otherwise, in 
spite of warnings ever so clear, considering how the 
world goes on in every age. Men who are plunged in 
the pursuits of active life are no judges of its course and 
tendency on the whole. They confuse great events with 
little, and measure the importance of objects as in per- 
spective, by the mere standard of nearness or remoteness. 
It is only at a distance that one can take in the out- 
lines and features of a whole country. It is but holy 
Daniel, solitary among princes, or Elijah, the recluse of 
Mount Carmel, who can withstand Baal, or forecast the 
time of God's providences among the nations. To the 
multitude all things continue to the end as they were from 
the beginning of the creation. The business of state 


affairs, the movements of society, the course of nature, 
proceed as ever, till the moment of Christ's coming. 
" The sun was risen upon the earth," bright as usual, on 
that very day of wrath on which Sodom was destroyed. 
Men cannot believe their own time is an especially 
wicked time; for with Scripture unstudied, and hearts 
untrained in holiness, they have no standard to compare 
it with. They take warning from no troubles or per- 
plexities, which rather carry them away to search out 
the earthly causes of them, and the possible remedies. 
When the power of Assyria became great (we might sup- 
pose), the Jews had a plain call to repentance. Far 
from it ; they were led to set power against power, they 
took refuge against Assyria in Egypt, their old enemy. 
Probably they reasoned themselves into what they con- 
sidered a temperate, enlightened, cheerful view of national 
affairs ; perhaps they might consider the growth of As- 
syria an advantage rather than otherwise, as balancing 
the power of Egypt, and so tending to their own security. 
Certain it is, we find them connecting themselves first 
with one kingdom and then with the other, as men who 
could read (as they thought) " the signs of the times," 
and made some pretence to political wisdom. Thus the 
world proceeds till wrath comes upon it, and there is no 
escape. " To-morrow," they say, " shall be as this day, 
and much more abundant." 


And in the midst of this their revel, whether of sensual 
pleasure, or of ambition, or of covetousness, or of pride 
and self-esteem, the decree goes forth to destroy. The 
decree goes forth in secret ; angels hear it, and the 
favoured few on earth ; but no public event takes place 
to give the world warning. The earth was doomed to 
the flood one hundred and twenty years before " the 
decree brought forth," or men heard of it (Zeph. ii. 2). 
The waters of Babylon had been turned, and the con- 
queror was marching into the city when Belshazzar made 
his great feast. Pride infatuates man, and self-indulgence 
and luxury work their way unseen — like some smoulder- 
ing fire, which for a while leaves the outward forms of 
things unaltered. At length the decayed mass cannot 
hold together, and breaks by its own weight, or on some 
slight and accidental external violence 

Thoughts such as the foregoing are profitable at all 
times ; for in every age the world is profane and blind, 
and God hides His Providence, yet carries it forward. 
Let us then turn this festival to account by taking it as 
the memorial-day of His visitations. Let us, from the 
events it celebrates, lay up deep in our hearts the 
recollection how mysteriously little things are in this 
world connected with great ; how single moments, im- 
proved or wasted, are the salvation or ruin of all- 
important interests. Let us bear the thought upon us 


when we come to worship in God's house, that any such 
season of service may, for what we know, be wonderfully 
connected with some ancient purpose of His, announced 
before we were born, and have its determinate bearing 
on our eternal welfare. Let us fear to miss the Saviour, 
while Simeon and Anna find Him. Let us remember 
that He was not manifested again in the Temple, except 
once, for thirty years, while a whole generation who were 
alive at His first visitation died off in the interval. Let 
us carry this thought into our daily conduct, considering 
that, for what we know, our hope of salvation may in the 
event materially depend on our avoiding this or that 
momentary sin. And further, from the occurrences of 
this day, let us take comfort when we despond about the 
state of the Church. Perhaps we see not God's tokens ; 
we see neither prophet nor teacher remaining to His 
people ; darkness falls over the earth, and no protesting 
voice is heard. Yet, granting things to be at the very 
worst, yet, when Christ was presented in the Temple, 
the age knew as little of it as it knows of His Providence 
now. Rather, the worse our condition is, the nearer to 
us is the Advent of our Deliverer. Even though He is 
silent, doubt not that His army is on the march towards 
us. He is coming through the sky, and has even now His 
camp upon the outskirts of our own world. 

Nay, though He still for a while keep His seat at His 


Father's right hand, yet surely He sees all that is going 
on, and waits, and will not fail His hour of vengeance. 
Shall He not hear His own elect, when they cry day and 
night to Him ? His services of prayer and praise con- 
tinue, and are scorned by the multitude. Day by day, 
festival by festival, fast after fast, season by season, they 
continue according to His ordinance, and aie scorned. 
But the greater His delay, the heavier will be His 
vengeance, and the more complete the deliverance of 
His people. 


" Whether is the greater, the gold, or the Temple that sanctifieth 
the gold ?" — Matt, xxiii. 1 7. 

A TEMPLE there has been upon earth, a Spiritual 
Temple, made up of living stones ; a Temple, as I 
may say, composed of souls ; a Temple with God for its 
Light, and Christ for the High Priest; with wings of 
angels for its arches, with saints and teachers for its 
pillars, and with worshippers for its pavement. Such a 
Temple has been on earth ever since the Gospel was first 
preached. This unseen, secret, mysterious, Spiritual 
Temple exists everywhere throughout the Kingdom of 
Christ, in all places, as perfect in one place as if it were 
not in another. Wherever there is faith and love, this 
Temple is ; faith and love, with the name of Christ, are as 
heavenly charms and spells to make present to us this 
Divine Temple in every part of Christ's kingdom. This 
Temple is invisible, but it is perfect and real because 
it is invisible, and gains nothing in perfection by pos- 


sessing visible tokens. There needs no outward building 
to meet the eye in order to make it more of a Temple 
than it is in itself. God, and Christ, and angels, and 
souls — are not these a heavenly court, all perfect, to 
which this world can add nothing? Though faithful 
Christians worship without splendour, without show, in a 
homely and rude way, still their worship is as acceptable 
to God, as excellent, as holy, as though they worshipped 
in the public view of men, and with all the glory and 
riches of the world. 

Such was the Church in its beginning, " built upon the 
foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Him- 
self being the chief corner stone ;" " builded together 
for an habitation of God through the Spirit." In the 
apostles' lifetime it was poor and persecuted, and the 
Holy Temple was all but invisible. There were no 
edifying rites, no various ceremonies, no rich music, no 
high Cathedrals, no mystic vestments, no solemn altars, 
no stone, or marble, or metals, or jewels, or woods of cost, 
or fine linen, to signify outwardly, and to honour duly 
the Heavenly Temple in which we stand and serve. The 
place where our Lord and Saviour first celebrated the 
Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist was the upper room of 
a house, hired too, or used for the occasion. That in 
which the apostles and the holy women waited for the 
promised coming of the Comforter was also " an upper 


room; and that also in which St. Paul preached at 
Troas was an upper chamber, " where they were gathered 
together." What other places of worship do we hear of? 
The water-side, out in the open air ; as at Philippi, where, 
we are told, " on the Sabbath," St. Paul and his com- 
panions "went out of the city by a river-side, where 
prayer was wont to be made." And the sea-shore : 
" They all brought us on our way, with wives and 
children, till we were out of the city ; and we kneeled 
down on the shore, and prayed." And St. Peter was in 
prayer on the house-top ; and St. Paul and St. Silas sang 
their hymns and praises in prison, with their feet in the 
stocks ; and St. Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch in 
the desert. Yet, wherever they were, whether in prison, 
or on the house-top, or in the wilderness, or by the 
river-side, or on the sea-shore, or in a private room, God 
and Christ were with them. The Spirit of Grace was 
there, the Temple of God was around them. They were 
come into the mystical Sion, and to the Heavenly Jeru- 
salem, and to an innumerable company of angels, and to 
the spirits of the just. There needed not gold, nor 
jewels, nor costly array for those who had what, accord- 
ing to the text, was greater — who had the Temple. It 
might be right and fitting, if possible, to have these 
precious things also, but it was not necessary j for which 
was the greater? Such things did not make the Temple 



more holy, but became themselves holy by being used 
for the Temple. The gold did not sanctify the Temple, 
for the Temple was' greater, and sanctified the gold. 
Gold is a thing of nought without Christ's presence ; and 
with His presence, as in the days of His earthly ministry, 
it might be dispensed with. 

The case is the same as regards the immediate suc- 
cessors of the apostles, who were in still more forlorn 
circumstances, as regards worship, than the apostles 
themselves. The Christians who came after them 
were obliged to worship in caves and tombs, to save 
their lives from their persecutors. In the eastern and 
southern parts, where the apostles and the first converts 
lived, before the glad sound of the Gospel had reached 
these northern and distant countries, they were accus- 
tomed to bury in caves dug out of the rock. Long 
galleries there are still remaining, in some places for 
miles underground, on each side of which the dead were 
placed. There the poor persecuted Christians met for 
worship, and that by night. Or the great people of the 
time built for themselves high and stately tombs above 
ground, as large as houses for the living. Here too, in the 
darkness and solitude of the night, did the saints worship , 
or in the depth of some wood, perhaps, where no one was 
likely to discover them. Such were the places in which 
the Invisible Temple was revealed in times of heathenism. 


and who shall say that it wanted aught of outward show 
to make it perfect ? 

This is true, and ever to be borne in mind ; and yet no 
one can deny, on the other hand, that a great object of 
Christ's coming was to subdue this world, to claim it as 
His own, to assert His rights as its Master, to destroy 
the usurped dominion of the enemy, to show Himself to 
all men, and to take possession. He is that mustard- 
tree which was destined silently to spread and to shadow 
all lands ; He is that leaven which was secretly to make 
its way through the mass of human opinions and institu- 
tions till the whole was leavened. Heaven and earth 
had hitherto been separate. His gracious purpose was 
to make them one, and that by making earth like 
heaven. He was in the world from the beginning, and 
man worshipped other gods ; He came into the world in 
the flesh, and the world knew Him not ; He came unto 
His own, and His own received Him not. But He came 
in order to make them receive Him, know Him, worship 
Him. He came to absorb this world into Himself; that, 
as He was light, so it might be light a 1 so. When He came 
He had not a place to lay His head ; but He came to 
make Himself a place, to make Himself a home, to make 
Himself houses, to fashion for Himself a glorious dwell- 
ing out of this whole world, which the powers of evil haci 
taken captive. He came in the dark, in the dark night 


was He born, in a cave underground ; in a cave where 
cattle were stabled, there was He housed; in a rude 
manger was He laid. There first He laid His head ; but 
He meant not, blessed be His name ! He meant not 
there to remain for ever. He did not resign Himself to 
that obscurity ; He came into that cave to leave it. The 
King of the Jews was born to claim the kingdom — yea, 
rather, the Hope of all nations and the King of the whole 
earth, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords ; and He 
gave not " sleep to His eyes, or slumber to His eyelids," 
till He had changed His manger for a royal throne, and 
His grot for high palaces. Lift up your eyes, my brethren, 
and look round, for it is fulfilled at this day ; yea, long ago, 
for many ages and in many countries. " Wisdom hath 
builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars." 
Where is the grot ? Where the stall for cattle ? Where 
the manger ? Where the grass and straw ? Where the 
unseemly furniture of that despised place? Is it pos- 
sible that the Eternal Son should have been born in a 
hole of the earth ? Was the great miracle there wrought, 
whereby a pure and spotless virgin brought forth God ? 
Strange condescension undergone to secure a strange 
triumph ! He purposed to change the earth, and He 
began " in the lowest pit, in a place of darkness, and in 
the deep." All was to be by Him renewed, and He 
availed Himself of nothing that was, that out of nothing 


He might make all things. He was not born in the 
Temple of Jerusalem ; He abhorred the palace of David. 
He laid Himself on the damp earth in the cold night, a 
light shining in a dark place ; till by the virtue that went 
out of Him He should create a Temple worthy of His 

And lo ! in omen of the future, even in His cradle, the 
rich and wise of the earth seek Him with gold, and 
frankincense, and myrrh, as an offering. And He puts 
aside the swaddling clothes, and takes instead "a coat 
without seam, woven from the top throughout." And 
He changes water into wine : and Levi feasts Him ; and 
Zaccheus receives Him ; and Mary anoints His head. 
Pass a few generations, and the whole face of things is 
changed ; the earth is covered with His Temples ; as it 
has been for ages. Go where you will you will find 
the eternal mountains hewn and fashioned into shrines 
where He may dwell, who was an outcast in the days of 
His flesh. Rivers and mines pay tribute of their richest 
jewels ; forests are searched for their choicest woods ; the 
skill of man is put to task to use what Nature furnishes. 
Go through the countries where His name is known, and 
you will find all that is rarest and most wonderful in 
nature or art has been consecrated to Him. King's palaces 
are poor, whether in architecture or in decoration, com- 
pared w'th the shrines which have been reared to Him 


The invisible Temple has become visible. As on a misty 
day the gloom gradually melts and the sun brightens, 
so have the glories of the spiritual world lit up this world 
below. The dull and cold earth is penetrated by the 
rays. All around we see glimpses of reflections of those 
heavenly things which the elect of God shall one day 
see face to face. The kingdoms of this world are 
become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. 
" The Temple has sanctified the gold," and the prophecies 
made to the Church have been fulfilled to the letter. 
" The glory of Lebanon " has been " given unto it, the ex- 
cellency of Carmel and Sharon." ■ " The glory of Lebanon, 
the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the box together, to beautify 
the place of His sanctuary, and to make the place of 
His feet glorious. The multitude of camels have covered 
it, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah : all they from 
Sheba have come ; they have brought gold and incense, 
and shown forth the praise of the Lord." " The labour of 
Egypt, and merchandize of Ethiopia, and of the Sabeans, 
men of stature, have come over to it, in chains have they 
come over; they have fallen down, they have made 

And He has made Him a Temple, not only out of in- 
animate things, but of men also as parts of it. Not gold 
and silver, jewels and fine linen, and skill of man to use 
them, make the House of God; but worshippers, the 


souls and bodies of men whom He has redeemed. Not 
souls alone, He takes possession of the whole man, body 
as well as soul ; for St. Paul says, " I beseech you therefore, 
brethien, by the mercies of God, that ye present your 
bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is 
your reasonable service." And He claims us as His own, 
not one by one, but altogether, as one great company. 
Our tongues must preach Him, and our voices sing of 
Him, and our countenances beam of Him, and our gait 
herald him. And hence arise joint worship, forms of 
prayer, ceremonies of devotion, the course of services, 
orders of ministers, holy vestments, solemn music, and 
other things of a like nature ; all which are, as it were, 
the incoming into this world of the invisible kingdom of 
Christ, the fruit of its influence, the sample of its power, 
the earnest of its victories, the means of its manifes- 

Things temporal have their visible establishment. 
Kings' courts and palaces, councils and armies, have 
dazzled the multitude, and blinded them, till they wor- 
shipped them as idols. Such is our nature, we must 
have something to look up to. We cannot help 
admiring something; and if there is nothing good to 
admire we admire what is bad. When then men see 
proud Babel set up on high, with all her show and pomp, 
when they see or hear of great cities with their stately 


mansions, the streets swarming with chariots and horses 
innumerable, and the shops filled with splendid wares, and 
great men and women richly dressed, with many at- 
tendants, and men crying, " Bow the knee," and soldiers 
in bright array, with the sound of the trumpets and other 
military music, and other things which one could mention 
were it reverent to be particular, simple men are tempted 
to look up to all this as the summit of perfection ana 1 
blessedness ; nay, as I have said, to worship what seems 
to them, though they do not express it, the presence of 
the Unseen. Hence come in servility, coveting, jealousy, 
ambition ; men wish to be great in this world, and try to 
be great ; they aim at riches, or they lie in wait for pro- 
motion. Christ, then, in order to counteract this evil, 
has mercifully set up His own court and His own polity, 
that men might have something to fix their eyes upor 
of a more divine and holy character than the world can 
supply : that poverty, at least, might divide men's admira- 
tion with riches ; that meekness might be set up on high 
as well as pride, and sanctity become our ambition as 
well as luxury. Saintly bishops with their clergy, officials 
of all kinds, religious bodies, austere Nazarites, prayer and 
praise without ceasing — all this hath Christ mercifully 
set up, to outshine the fascinations of the world. So 
ran the promise, " I have set watchmen upon thy walls, 
O Jerusalem ! which shall never hold their peace day nor 


night." " Sing unto the Lord a new song, and His praise 
from the end of the earth ; ye that go down to the sea 
and all that is therein. . . . Let the wilderness and the 
cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar 
doth inhabit ; let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let 
them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them 
give glory unto the Lord, and declare His praise in the 
islands." And these words began to have their fulfilment 
even from the time that Christ came ; for, as I said 
when I began, St. Paul and St. Silas sang in the prison ; 
and when he and his party left Tyre, the men, women, 
and children, who accompanied them out, kneeled down 
on the shore with them, and prayed. Such were the 
forms of worship in the beginning ; till, as time went on, 
the Church, like some fair tree, put out her branches and 
foliage, and stood complete in all manner of holy 
symbols and spiritual ordinances, an outward sign of 
that unseen Temple in which Christ had dwelt from 
the first. 

In conclusion, let me observe, that such a view as has 
been taken of the connection of the ritual of religion 
with its spiritual and invisible powers, will enable us to 
form a right estimate of things external, and keep us both 
from a curious and superstitious use and an arrogant neg- 
lect of them. The Temple is greater than the gold ; there- 
fore, care not though the gold be away : it sanctifies it 


therefore cherish the gold while it is present. Christ 
is with us, though there be no outward show. Suppose 
all the comely appendages of our worship stripped off; 
yet, where two or three are gathered together in His 
Name, He is in the midst of them. Be it a cottage or 
the open fields, or even a prison or a dungeon, Christ 
can be there, and will be there if His servants are there. 
Stone walls do not make a church. Though they 
were in the vastest, noblest, richest building on earth, 
still Christ would not be with those who preach another 
gospel than that which He delivered once for all. This 
is the very point I am insisting on. It is the Temple 
which sanctifieth the gold ; it is nothing but the invisible 
and heavenly Presence which sanctifieth any place or 
anything. Magnificent or mean, costly or common, it 
alone sanctifies either worshippers or building. As it 
avails not to have sumptuous churches without the Spirit 
of Christ, so it is but a mockery to have large congrega- 
tions, eloquent preachers, and much excitement, if that 
gracious Spirit is away. But where He really places His 
Name, there, be the spot a palace or a cottage, it is 
sacred and glorious. He who once lay in a manger will 
still condescend to manifest Himself anywhere, as He did 
in primitive times. No indignities can be done to Him 
who inhabiteth eternity. " Heaven is His throne, and 
earth His footstool." The very heaven of heavens cannot 


contain Him ; much less any house which we can build. 
High and low is alike to Him 

They who profane His presence, who treat its resting- 
place as a common house, and make free with it, these 
men do not hurt Christ, but they hurt themselves. The 
Temple is greater than the gold. 

And while ' He is displeased with the profane, He 
accepts our offerings made in faith, whether they be 
greater or less. He accepts our gold and our silver, not 
to honour Himself thereby, but in mercy to us. When 
Mary poured the ointment on His head, it was her 
advantage, not His. He praised her, and said, "She 
hath done what she could." 

Every one must do his best ; he must attend his best. 
If we did all, it would be little — not worthy of Him. If 
we do little, it may suffice to show our faith, and He in 
His mercy will accept whatever we can offer. He 
will accept what we prefer giving to Him instead of 
giving to ourselves. When, instead of spending money 
on our own homes, we spend it on His house ; when 
we prefer that He should have the gold and silver to 
our having it, we do not make our worship more 
spiritual, but we bring Christ nearer to us ; we show that 
we are in earnest — we evidence our faith. It requires 
very little of true faith and love to feel an unwillingness 
to spend money on one's self. Fine dresses, fine houses^ 


fine furniture, fine establishments, are painful to a true 
Christian; they create misgivings in his mind whether 
his portion is with the saints or with the world. Rather 
he will feel it suitable to lay out his money in God's 
service — to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to 
educate the young, to spread the knowledge of the truth, 
and, among other pious objects, to build and to decorate 
the visible house of God. 

"Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and 
wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the 
house of my God, and for the offices thereof." Such was 
Nehemiah's prayer when he had been stirred up to 
cleanse the sanctuary. May God in His mercy grant 
that our outward show does not outstrip our inward 
progress ; that whatever gift, rare or beautiful, we 
introduce here, may be but a figure of inward beauty and 
unseen sanctity ornamenting our hearts. Hearts are the 
true shrine wherein Christ must dwell. "The King's 
daughter is all glorious within;" and when we are 
repenting of past sin, and cleansing ourselves from all 
defilements of flesh and spirit, and perfecting holiness 
in the fear of the Lord, then, and then only, may we 
safely employ ourselves in brightening, embellishing, 
and making glorious the dwelling-place of His invisible 
presence, doing it with that severity, gravity, and awe, 
which a chastene i heart and sober thoughts will teach us. 


' Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, 
when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of 
Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For He is not a God of the dead, 
but of the living ; for all live unto Him." — Luke xx. 37, 38. 

HPHESE words of our Saviour show us how much more 
there is in Scripture than at first sight appears. 
God spoke to Moses in the burning bush, and called 
Himself " the God of Abraham f and Christ tells us that 
in this simple announcement was contained the promise 
that Abraham should rise again from the dead. In truth, 
if we may say it with reverence, the All-wise, All-knowing 
God, cannot speak without meaning many things at once. 
He sees the end from the beginning ; He understands 
the numberless connexions and relations of all things one 
with another. Every word of His is full of instruction, 
looking many ways ; and though it is not often given to 
us to know these various senses, and we are not at liberty 
to attempt lightly to imagine them, yet, as far as they are 
told us, and as far as we may reasonably infer them, we 


must thankfully accept them. Look at Christ's words, 
and this same character of them strikes us : whatever He 
says is fruitful in meaning, and refers to many things. 
It is well to keep this in mind when we read Scripture, 
for it may hinder us from self-conceit, from studying it in 
an arrogant, critical temper, and from giving over reading 
it, as if we had got from it all that can be learned. 

When God called Himself the God of Abraham, 
Isaac, and Jacob, He implied that those holy patriarchs 
were still alive, though they were no more seen on earth. 
This may seem evident at first sight; but it may be 
asked how the text proves that their bodies would live ; 
for, if their souls were still living, that would be enough 
to account for their being still called, in the Book of 
Exodus, servants of God. This is the point to be con- 
sidered. Our blessed Lord seems to tell us that in some 
sense or other Abraham's body might be considered still 
alive as a pledge of his resurrection, though it was dead 
in the common sen^e in which we apply the word. His 
announcement is, Abraham shall rise from the dead, 
because in truth he is still alive. He cannot in the end 
be held under the power of the grave, more than a sleep- 
ing man can be kept from waking. Abraham is still 
alive in the dust, though not risen thence. He is alive, 
because all God's saints live to Him, though they seem 
to perish. 


It may seem a paradox to say that our bodies even 
when dead are still alive ; but since our Lord seems to 
countenance us in saying so, I will say it, though a 
strange saying, because it has an instructive meaning. 
We are apt to talk about our bodies as if we knew how or 
what they really were, whereas we only know what our 
eyes tell us. They seem to grow, to come to maturity, 
to decay; but after all we know no more about them 
than meets our senses, and there is doubtless much 
which God sees in our material frames which we cannot 
see. We have no direct cognizance of what may be 
called the substantive existence of the body, only of its 
accidents. Again, we are apt to speak of soul and body 
as if we could distinguish between them, and knew much 
about them ; but for the most part we use words without 
meaning. It is useful indeed to make the distinction, 
and Scripture makes it ; but after all, the Gospel speaks 
of our nature, in a religious sense, as one. Soul and body 
make up one man, which is born once and never dies. 
Philosophers of old time thought the soul indeed might 
live for ever, but that the body perished at death ; but 
Christ tells us otherwise. He tells us the body will live 
for ever. In the text He seems to intimate that it 
never really dies ; that we lose sight indeed of what we 
are accustomed to see ; but that God still sees the elements 
of it which are not exposal to iur senses. 


God graciously called Himself the God of Abraham. 
He did not say the God of Abraham's soul, but simply 
of Abraham. He blest Abraham, and He gave him 
eternal life ; not to his soul only without his body, but to 
Abraham as one man. And so He is our God, and it is 
not given us to distinguish between what He does for our 
different natures, spiritual and material. These are mere 
words. Each of us may feel himself to be one, and that 
one being, in all its substantial parts and attributes, will 
never die 

Among the wise men of the heathen, as I have said, it 
was usual to speak slightingly and contemptuously of the 
mortal body; they knew no better. They thought it 
scarcely a part of their real selves, and fancied they 
should be in a better condition without it. Nay, they 
considered it to be the cause of their sinning ; that the 
soul of man was pure, and the material body was gross, 
and defiled the soul. We have been taught the truth, 
viz., that sin is a disease of our minds, of ourselves ; and 
that all of us, net body alone, but soul and body, is 
naturally corrupt, and that Christ has redeemed and 
cleansed whatever we are, sinful soul and body. Ac- 
cordingly their chief hope in death was the notion they 
should be rid of their body. Feeling they were sinful, 
and not knowing how, they laid the charge on their body ; 
and knowing they were badly circumstanced here, they 


thought death perchance might be a change for the 
better. Not that they rested on the hope of returning to 
a God and Father ; but they thought to be unshackled 
from the earth, and able to do what they would. It was 
consistent with this slighting of their earthly tabernacle 
that they burned the dead bodies of their friends ; not 
burying them, as we do, but consuming them, as a mere 
worthless case of what had been precious, and was then 
an encumbrance to the ground. Far different is the 
temper which the glorious light of the Gospel teaches us. 
Our bodies shall rise again and live for ever ; they may 
not be irreverently handled. How they will rise we 
know not ; but surely, if the word of Scripture be true, 
the body from which the soul departed shall come to 

life We cannot determine in what exact sense our 

bodies will be on the resurrection the same as they are 
at present, but we cannot harm ourselves by taking God's 
declaration simply, and acting upon it. And it is as 
believing this comfortable truth that the Christian .Church 
put aside that old irreverence of the funeral pile, and 
consecrated the ground for the reception of the saints 
that sleep. We deposit our departed friends calmly and 
thoughtfully in faith, not ceasing to love or remember 
that which once lived among us, but marking the place 
where it lies, as believing that God has set His seal upon 
it, and His angels guard it. His angels surely gua~d the 



bodies of His servants ; Michael the archangel thinking 
it no unworthy task to preserve them from the powers of 


And in this view what a venerable and fearful place is 
a church, in and around which the dead are deposited ! 
Truly it is chiefly sacred as being the spot where God 
has . for ages manifested Himself to His servants ; but 
add to this the thought that it is the actual resting-place 
of those very servants, through successive times, who still 
live unto Him ! The dust around us will one day become 
animate. We may ourselves be dead long before, and 
not see it. We ourselves may elsewhere be buried, and 
should it be our exceeding blessedness to rise to life eternal, 
we may rise in other places, far in the east or west. But 
as God's work is sure, what is sown is raised. The earth 
to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, shall become glory 
to giory, and life to the living God, and a true incor- 
ruptible image of the spirit made perfect. Here the 
saints sleep, here they shall rise. A great sight will a 
Christian country then be, if earth remains what it is, 
when holy places pour out the worshippers who have 
for generations kept vigil therein, waiting through the 
long night for the bright coming of Christ. And, if this 
be so, what pious, composed thoughts should be ours 
when we enter churches ! God indeed is everywhere, 
and His angels go to and fro; yet c?n they be more 


worthily employed in their condescending care of man, 
than where good men sleep ? In the service of the Com- 
munion we magnify God together with angels and arch- 
angels, and all the company of heaven. Surely there is 
more meaning in this than we know of. What a " dread 
ful " place would this appear if our eyes were opened as 
those of Elisha's servant : " This is none other than the 
house of God, and this is the gate of heaven !" 


"There is at Jerusalem by the sheep-market a pool, which is called 
in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these 
lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, 
waiting for the moving of the water." — John v. 2, 3. 

^VX THAT a scene of misery this pool of Bethesda must 
have presented ! of pain and sickness triumphing 
unto death ; the " blind, halt, withered, and impotent," 
persuaded by the hope of cure to disclose their sufferings 
in the eye of day in one large company ! This pool was 
endued at certain times with a wonderful virtue by the 
descent of an angel into it, so that its waters effected the 
cure of the first who stepped into it, whatever was his 
disease. However, I shall not speak of this wonderful 
pool, nor of our Saviour's miracle wrought there upon the 
man who had no one to put him in before the rest, when 
• the water was troubled, and had been for thirty-eight 
years afflicted with his infirmity. Without entering into 
these subjects, let us take the text as it stands, and deduce 
a lesson from it. 


There lay about the pool " a great multitude of im- 
potent folk, of blind, halt, and withered." This is a 
painful picture, such as we do not like to dwell upon, 
— a picture of a chief kind of human suffering, bodily 
disease ; one which suggests to us and typifies all other 
suffering — the most obvious fulfilment of that curse which 
Adam's fall brought upon his descendants. Now it must 
strike every one, who thinks at all about it, that the Bible 
is full of such descriptions of human misery. We know 
it also abounds in accounts of human sin ; but not to 
speak of these, it abounds in accounts of human distress 
and sufferings, of our miserable condition, of the vanity, 
unprofitableness, and trials of life. The Bible begins 
with the history of the curse pronounced on the earth 
and man ; it ends with the book of Revelation, a portion 
of Scripture fearful for its threats, and its prediction of 
judgments. Spite of the peculiar promises made to the 
Church in Christ our Saviour, yet as regards the world, 
the volume of inspiration is still a dreary record, " written 
within and without with lamentations, and mourning, and 
woe." And further, you will observe that it seems to 
drop what might be said in favour of this life, and en- 
larges on the unpleasant side of it. The history passes 
quickly from the garden of Eden, to dwell on the suffer- 
ings which followed when our first parents were expelled 
thence ; and though, in matter of fact, there are traces oi 


Paradise still left among us, yet it is evident Scripture 
says little of them in comparison of its accounts of human 
misery. Little does it say concerning the innocent 
pleasures of life ; of those temporal blessings which rest 
upon our worldly occupations, and make them easy ; of 
the blessings which we derive from the sun, and moon, 
and the " everlasting hills ;" from the succession of the 
seasons and the produce of the earth ; little about our 
recreations, and our daily domestic comforts ; little about 
the ordinary occasions of festivity and mirth which occur 
in life ; and nothing at all about those various other 
enjoyments which it would be going too much into detail 
to mention. Human tales and poems are full of pleasant 
sights and prospects ; they make things better than they 
are, and portray a sort of imaginary perfection; but 
Scripture (I repeat) seems to abstain even from what 
might be said in praise of human life as it is. " Vanity 
of vanities, all is vanity f " Man is born to trouble ;" 
these are its customary lessons. The text is but a speci- 
men of the descriptions repeated again and again through- 
out Scripture of human infirmity and misery 

In truth, this view is the ultimate true view of human 
life. But this is not all ; it is a view which it concerns 
us much to know. It concerns us (I say) much to be told 
that this world is, after all, in spite of first appearances 
and partial exceptions, a dark world ; else we shall be 


obliged to learn it (and sooner or later we must learn it) 
by sad experience; whereas, if we are forewarned, we 
shall unlearn false notions of its excellence, and be saved 
the disappointment which follows them. And therefore 
it is that Scripture omits even what might be said in 
praise of this world's pleasures ; not denying their value, 
such as it is, or forbidding us to use them religiously, but 
knowing that we are sure to find them out for ourselves 
without being told of them, and that our danger is on 
the side, not of undervaluing, but of overvaluing them ; 
whereas, by being told of the world's vanity at first, we 
shall learn (what else we should only attain at last), not 
indeed to be gloomy and discontented, but to bear a 
sober and calm heart under a smiling cheerful coun- 
tenance. This is one chief reason of the solemn cha- 
racter of the Scripture history ; and if we keep it in view, 
so far from being offended and frightened away by its 
notes of sorrow, because they grate on the ear at first, 
we shall steadfastly listen to them and get them by heart, 
as a gracious gift from God, sent to us as a remedy for 
all dangerous overflowing joy in present blessings, in 
order to save us far greater pain (if we use the lesson 
well), the pain of actual disappointment, such as the over- 
throw of vainly-cherished hopes of lasting good upon 
earth will certainly occasion. 

Do but consider what is the consequence of ignorance 


or distrust of God's warning voice, and you will see 
clearly how merciful He is, and how wise it is to listen 
to Him. I will not suppose a case of gross sin, or of 
open contempt for religion ; but let a man have a general 
becoming reverence for the law and Church of God, and 
an unhesitating faith in his Saviour Christ, yet suppose 
him to be so taken with the goods of this world, as 
(without his being aware of it) to give his heart to them. 
Let him have many good feelings and dispositions, but 
let him love his earthly pursuits, amusements, friends, too 
well — by which I mean so well as to forget that he is 
bound to live in the spirit of Abraham's faith, who gave 
up home, kindred, possessions, all his eye ever loved, at 
God's word ; in the spirit of St. Paul's faith, who "counted 
all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge 
of Christ Jesus his Lord," to win whose favour "he 
suffered the loss of all things." How will the world go 
with a man thus forgetful of his real interests ? For a 
while all will be enjoyment : if at any time weariness 
comes, he will be able to change his pleasure, and the 
variety will relieve him. His health is good, and his 
spirits high, and easily master and bear down all the 
accidental troubles of life. So far all is well; but as 
years roll on, by little and little he will discover that, 
after all, he is not, as he imagined, possessed of any 
real substantial good. He will begin to find, and be 


startled at finding, that the things which once please 1, 
please less and less, or not at all. He will be unable to 
recall those lively emotions in which he once indulged ; 
and he will wonder why thus, by degrees, the delightful 
visions which surrounded him will fade away, and in their 
stead melancholy forms will haunt him, such as crowded 
round the pool of Bethesda. Then will be fulfilled the 
words of the wise man. The days will have come 
" when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them ; the 
sun, and the light, and the moon, and the stars shall be 
darkened, and the clouds return after the rain ; then they 
who look out of the window shall be darkened, the doors 
shall be shut in the streets, all the daughters of music 
shall be brought low, fears shall be in the way, and desire 
shall fail." Then a man will begin to be restless and 
discontented, for he does not know how to amuse himself. 
Before, he was cheerful only from the natural flow of his 
spirits, and when such cheerfulness is lost with increasing 
years he becomes evil-natured. He has made no effort 
to change his heart, to raise, strengthen, and purify his 
faith, to subdue his bad passions and tempers. Now 
their day is come ; they have sprung up, and begin to 
domineer. When he was in health he thought about his 
farm or his merchandise, and lived to himself; he laid 
out his strength on the world, and the world is nothing 
to him, as a worthless bargain (so to say), seeing it is 


nothing worth to one who cannot take pleasure in it. 
He had no habitual thought of God in the former time, 
however he might have a general reverence for His 
name ; and now he dreads Him, or (if the truth must be 
said) even begins to hate the thought of Him. Where 
shall he look for succour ? Perhaps, moreover, he is a 
burthen to those around him j they care not for him, he 
is in their way. And so he will lie year after year by 
the pool of Bethesda, by the waters of health, with no 
one helping him ; unable to advance himself towards a 
cure, in consequence of his long habits of sin, and others 
passing him by, perhaps unable to help one who ob- 
stinately refuses to be comforted. Thus he has at length 
full, personal, painful experience that this world is really 
vanity, or worse, and all this because he would not 
believe it from Scripture. 

Now should the above description appear overcharged ; 
should it be said that it supposes a man to be possessed 
of more of the pleasures of life than most men have, 
and of keener feelings ; should it be said that most men 
have little to enjoy, and that most of those who have 
much go on in an ordinary tranquil way, and take and 
lose things without much thought, not pleased much in 
their vigorous days, and not caring much about the 
change when the world deserts them; then I must 
proceed to a more solemn consideration still, on which 


I do not like to dwell, but would rather leave it for your 
own private reflection upon it. There is a story in the 
Gospel of a man who was taken out of this life before 
he had turned his thoughts heavenward, and in another 
world he lifted up his eyes, being in torments. Be quite 
sure that every one of us, even the poorest and the most 
dull and insensible, is far more attached to this world 
than he can possibly imagine. We get used to the things 
about us, and forget they are necessary for our comfort. 
Every one, when taken out of this world, would miss a 
great deal that he is used to depend on, and would in 
consequence be in great discomfort and sorrow in his 
new abode, as a stranger in an unknown place ; every 
one, that is, who had not, while on earth, made God his 
Father and Protector — that great God who alone will there 
be found. We do not then mend the matter at all in 
supposing a man not to find out the world's vanity here ; 
for even should the world remain his faithful friend, and 
please him with its goods to his dying day, still that 
world will be burnt up at the day of his resurrection ; 
and even had he little of its comforts here, that little 
he will then miss. Then all men, small and great, will 
know it to be vanity, and feel their infinite loss if they 
have trusted it, when all the dead stand before God. 

Let this suffice on the use we must make of the 
solemn view which the Scripture takes of this life. Those 


disclosures are intended to save us pain, by preventing 
us enjoying the world unreservedly ; that we may use it 
as not abusing it. 

Nor let it seem as if this view of life must make a 
man melancholy and gloomy. The great rule of our 
conduct is to take things as they come. He who goes 
out of his way as shrinking from the varieties of human 
life which meet him, has weak faith or a strangely- 
perverted conscience — he wants elevation of mind. The 
true Christian rejoices in those earthly things which 
give joy, but in such a way as not to care for them when 
they go. For no blessings does he care much, except 
those which are immortal, knowing that he shall receive 
all such again in the world to come. But the least and 
the most fleeting, he is too religious to contemn, con- 
sidering them God's gift ; and the least and most fleeting, 
thus received, yield a purer and deeper, though a less 
tumultuous joy. And if he at times refrains, it is lest he 
should encroach upon God's bounty, or lest by a constant 
use of it he shoald forget how to do without it. 

Our Saviour gives us a pattern which we are bound 
to follow. He was a far greater than John the Baptist, 
yet He came, not with St. John's outward austerity, con- 
demning the display of strictness or gloominess, that we, 
His followers, might fast the more in private, and be the 
more austere in our secret hearts. True it is that such 


self-command, composure, and inward faith, are not 
learned in a day ; but if they were, why should this life 
be given us ? It is given us as a very preparation time 
for obtaining them. Only look upon the world in this 
light. Its sights of sorrows are to calm you, and its 
pleasant sights to try you. There is a bravery in thus 
going straight forward, shrinking from no duty little o: 
great, passing from high to low, from pleasure to pain, 
and making your principles strong without their becoming 
formal. Learn to be as the angel, who could descend 
among the miseries of Bethesda without losing his 
heavenly purity or his perfect happiness. Gain healing 
from troubled waters. Make up your mind to the pros- 
pect of sustaining a certain measure of pain and trouble 
in your passage through life. By the blessing of God 
this will prepare you for it ; it will make you thoughtful 
and resigned without interfering with your cheerfulness. 
It will connect you in your own thoughts with the saints 
of Scripture, whose lot it was to be patterns of patient 
endurance ; and this association brings to the mind 
a peculiar consolation. View yourself and all Christians 
as humbly following the steps of Jacob, whose days were 
few and evil j and David, who in his best estate was as a 
shadow that declineth, and was withered like grass ; and 
Elijah, who despised soft raiment and sumptuous fare ; 
and forlorn Daniel, who led an angel's life ; and be light- 


hearted and contented, because you are thus called to be 
a member of Christ's pilgrim Church. Realize the 
paradox of making merry and rejoicing in the world 
because it is not yours. And if you are hard to be 
affected (as many men are), and think too little of the 
changes of life, going on in a dull way without hope or 
fear, feeling neither your need nor the excellence of 
religion ; then, again, meditate on the mournful histories 
recorded in Scripture, in order that your hearts may be 
opened thereby and roused. Read the Gospels in par- 
ticular; you there find accounts of sick and afflicted 
persons in every page as mementoes. Above all, you 
there read of Christ's sufferings, which I am not now 
called upon to speak of; but the thought of which is 
far more than enough to make the world, bright as it may 
be, look dark and miserable in itself to all true believers, 
even if the record of them were the only sorrowful part of 
the whole Bible. 


"Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." — 
Heb. xii. 14. 

TN this text it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit 
to convey a chief truth of religion in a few words. 
It is this circumstance which makes it especially im- 
pressive ; for the truth itself is declared in one form or 
other in every part of Scripture. It is told us again and 
again, that to make sinful creatures holy was the great 
end which our Lord had in view in taking upon Him 
our nature, and that none but the holy will be accepted 

for His sake at the last day 

To be holy, is in our Church's words, to have " the true 
circumcision of the Spirit ;" that is, to be separate from 
sin, to hate the works of the world, the flesh, and the 
devil j to take pleasure in keeping God's commandments ; 
to do things as He would have us do them ; to live 
habitually as in the sight of the world to come, as if we 
had broken the ties of this life, and were dead already. 


Why cannot we be saved without possessing such a frame 
and temper of mind ? 

I answer as follows : that, even supposing a man of 
unholy life were suffered to enter heaven, he would not be 
happy there; so that it would be no mercy to permit him 
to enter. 

We are apt to deceive ourselves, and to consider 
heaven a place like this earth ; I mean, a place where 
every man may choose and take his own pleasure. We 
see that in this world active men have their own enjoy- 
ments, and domestic men have theirs ; men of literature, 
of science, of political talent, have their respective 
pursuits and pleasures. Hence we are led to act as if 
it will be the same in another world. The only difference 
we put between this world and the next, is that here 
(as we know well) men are not always sure, but there, we 
suppose they will be always sure, of obtaining what they 
seek after. And accordingly we conclude that any man, 
whatever his habits, tastes, or manner of life, if once 
admitted into heaven, would be happy there. Not that 
we altogether deny that some preparation is necessary 
for the next world ; but we do not estimate its real extent 
and importance. We think we can reconcile ourselves 
to God when we will ; as if nothing were required in the 
case of men in general but some temporary attention, 
more than ordinary, to our religious duties; some strictness, 


during our last sickness, to the services of the Church, 
as men of business arrange their letters and papers 
on taking a journey or balancing an account But 
an opinion like this, though commonly acted upon, is 
refuted as soon as put into words. For heaven, it is 
plain from Scripture, is not a place where many different 
and discordant pursuits can be carried on at once, as 
is the case in this world. Here every one can do his 
own pleasure, but there he must do God's pleasure. 
It would be presumption to attempt to determine the 
employments of that eternal life which good men are 
to pass in God's presence, or to deny that that state 
which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor mind 
conceived, may comprise an infinite variety of pursuits 
and occupations. Still, so far we are distinctly told, that 
that future life will be spent in God's presence, in a sense 
which does not apply to our present life; so that it 
may be best described as an endless and uninterrupted 
worship of the Eternal Father, Son, and Spirit. " They 
serve Him day and night in His temple, and He that 
sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. . . . The 
Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed 
them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters." 
Again : " The city had no need of the sun, neither of 
the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten 
it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the m cions 



of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it, 
and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and 
honour into it." These passages of St. John are sufficient 
to remind us of many others. 

Heaven, then, is not like this world. I will say what 
it is much more like — a church. For in a place of public 
worship no language of this world is heard; there are 
no schemes brought forward for temporal objects, great 
or small ; no information how to strengthen our worldly 
interests, extend our influence, or establish our credit. 
These things indeed may be right in their way, so that 
we do not set our hearts upon them; still (I repeat), 
it is certain that we hear nothing of them in a church. 
Here we hear solely and entirely of God. We praise 
Him, worship Him, sing to Him, thank Him, confess 
to Him, give ourselves up to Him, and ask His blessing. 
And, therefore, a church is like heaven, viz., because 
both in the one and the other there is one single 
sovereign subject — religion — brought before us. 

Supposing, then, instead of its being said that no 
irreligious man could serve and love God in heaven 
(or see Him, as the text expresses it), we were told that 
no irreligious man could worship, of spiritually see Him 
in church ; should we not at once perceive the meaning 
of the doctrine ? namely, that were a man to come hither, 
who had suffered his mind to grow up its own way, 


as nature or chance determined, without any deliberate 
habitual effort after truth and purity, he would find no 
real pleasure here, but would soon get weary of the 
place ; because in this house of God he would hear only 
of that one subject which he cared little or nothing 
about, and nothing at all of those things which excited 
his hopes and fears, his sympathies and energies. If, 
then, a man without religion (supposing it possible) were 
admitted into heaven, doubtless he would sustain a great 
disappointment. Before, indeed, he fancied that he 
could be happy there; but when he arrived there he 
would find no discourse but that which he had shunned 
on earth; no pursuits but those he had disliked or 
despised; nothing which bound him to aught else in 
the universe, and made him feel at home ; nothing which 
he could enter into and rest upon. He would perceive 
himself to be an isolated being, cut away by Supreme 
Power from those objects which were still entwined 
about his heart. Nay, he would be in the presence 
of that Supreme Power whom he never on earth could 
bring himself steadily to think upon, and whom now 
he regarded only as the destroyer of all that was 
precious and dear to Him. Ah ! he could not bear the 
face of the Living God; the Holy God would be no 
object of joy to him. " Let us alone ! what have we 
to do with Thee?" is the sole thought and desire of 


unclean souls, even while they acknowledge His majesty. 
None but the holy can look upon the Holy One : without 
holiness no man can endure to see the Lord. 

When, then, we think to take part in the joys o r 
heaven without holiness, we are as inconsiderate as if 
we supposed we could take an interest in the worship 
of Christians here below without possessing it in our 
measure. A careless, a sensual, an unbelieving mind ; 
a mind destitute of the love and fear of God; with 
narrow views and earthly aims, a low standard of duty, 
and a benighted conscience; a mind contented with 
itself, and unresigned to God's will, would not feel 
pleasure at the last day at the words, " Enter into the 
joy of thy Lord," more than it does now at the words, 
" Let us pray." Nay, much less ; because while we 
are in a church we may turn our thoughts to other 
subjects, and contrive to forget that God is working 
on us ; but that will not be possible in heaven. 

We see, then, that holiness, or inward separation from 
the world, is necessary to our admission into heaven ; 
because heaven is not heaven, is not a place of happiness, 
except to the holy. There are bodily indispositions which 
affect the taste, so that the sweetest flavours become 
ungrateful to the palate ; and indispositions which impair 
the sight, tinging the fair face of nature with some 
sickly hue. In like manner there is a moral malady 


which disorders the inward sight and taste ; and no man 
labouring under it is in a condition to enjoy what 
Scripture calls " the fulness of joy in God's presence, and 
pleasures at His right hand for evermore." 

Nay, I will venture to say more than this — it is fearful, 
but it is right to say it — that if we wished to imagine a 
punishment for an unholy, reprobate soul, we perhaps 
could not fancy a greater than to summon it to heaven. 
Heaven would be hell to an irreligious man. We know 
how unhappy we are apt to feel at present, when alone 
in the midst of strangers, or of men of different tastes 
and habits to ourselves. How miserable, for example, 
would it be to have to live in a foreign land, among a 
people whose faces we never saw before, and whose Ian ■ 
guage we could not learn. And this is but a faint illus- 
tration of the loneliness of a man of earthly dispositions 
and tastes thrown into the society of saints and angels. 
How forlorn would he wander through the courts of 
heaven ! He would find no one like himself; he would 
see in every direction the marks of God's holiness, and 
these would make him shudder. He would feel himself 
always in His presence. He could no longer turn his 
thoughts another way, as he does now, when conscience 
reproaches him. He would know that the eternal eye 
was ever upon him ; and that eye of holiness, which is 
joy and life to holy creatures, would seem to him an eye 


of wrath and punishment. God cannot change His 
nature. Holy He must ever be. But while He is holy 
no unholy soul can be happy in heaven. Fire does not 
inflame iron, but it inflames straw. It would cease to be 
fire if it did not. And so heaven itself would be fire to 
those who would fain escape across the great gulf from 
the torments of hell. The finger of Lazarus would but 
increase their thirst. The very "heaven that is over 
their heads " will be " brass " to them. 

I will now mention two important truths which seem 
to follow from what has been said. 

First, if a certain character of mind, a certain state 
of the heart and affections, be necessary for entering 
heaven, our actions will avail for our salvation chiefly as 
they tend to produce or evidence this frame of mind. 
Good works (as they are called) are required, not as if 
they had anything of merit in them, not as if they could 
of themselves turn away God's anger for our sins, or 
purchase heaven for us, but because they are the means, 
under God's grace, of strengthening and showing forth 
that holy principle which God implants in the heart, and 
without which (as the text tells us) we cannot see Him. 
The more numerous are our acts of charity, self-denial, 
and forbearance, of course the more will our minds be 
schooled into a charitable, self-denying, and forbearing 
temper. The more frequent are our prayers, the more 


humble, patient, and religious are our daily deeds, this 
communion with God, these holy works, will be the 
means of making our hearts holy, and of preparing us for 
the future presence of God. Outward acts, done on prin- 
ciple, create inward habits. I repeat, the separate acts 
of obedience to the will of God, good works as they are 
called, are of service to us, as gradually severing us from 
this world of sense, and impressing our hearts with a 
heavenly character. . . . The mere outward acts of 
coming to church and saying prayers, which are of course 
duties imperative upon all of us, are really serviceable to 
those only who do them in a heavenly spirit, because 
such men only use these good deeds to the improvement 
of the heart; whereas even the most exact outward 
devotion avails not a man if it does not improve it. 

Secondly, if holiness be not merely the doing a certain 
number of actions, but is an inward character which fol- 
lows, under God's grace, from doing them, how far distant 

from that holiness are the multitude of men 

Most men who are living in neglect of God, silence their 
consciences when troublesome with the promise of re- 
penting some future day. How often are they thus led 
on till death surprises them ! But we will suppose they 
do begin to repent when that future day comes. Nay, 
we will even suppose that Almighty God were to forgive 
them, and to admit them into His holy heaven. Well, 


but is nothing more requisite? Are they in a fit state to 
do Him service in heaven? Is not this the very point 
I have been so insisting upon, that they are not in a 
fit state ? has it not been shown, that even if admitted 
there without a change of heart, they would find no 
pleasure in heaven ? and is a change of heart wrought in 
a day ? Which of our tastes or likings can we change at 
our will in a moment? Not the most superficial. Can 
we then at a word change the whole character and frame 
of our minds? Is not holiness the result of many patient, 
repeated efforts after obedience gradually working on us, 
and first modifying and then changing our hearts ? We 
dare not, of course, set bounds to God's mercy and power 
in cases of repentance late in life, even where He has 
revealed to us the general rule of His moral governance ; 
yet surely it is our duty ever to keep steadily before us 
and act upon those general truths which His holy word 
has declared. His holy word in various ways warns us 
that, as no one will find happiness in heaven who is not 
holy, so no one can learn to be so in a short time, and 
when he will. It implies it in the text, which names a 
qualification, which we know in matter of fact does 
ordinarily take time to gain. It propounds it clearly, 
though in figure, in the parable of the wedding garment, 
in which inward sanctification is made a condition dis- 
tinct from our acceptance of the proffer of mercy, and 


not negligently to be passed over in our thoughts as if a 
necessary consequence of it. And it solemnly assures us 
in St. Paul's epistles that it is possible so to presume on 
Divine grace as to let slip the accepted time, and be 
sealed even before the end of life to a reprobate mind 
(Heb. vi. 4-6; x. 26-29) 

To obtain the gift of holiness is the work of a life. 
No man will ever be perfect here, so sinful is our nature. 
Thus, in putting off the day of repentance, these men are 
reserving for a few chance years, when strength and 
vigour are gone, that work for which a whole life would 
not be enough. That work is great and arduous beyond 
expression. There is much of sin remaining even in the 
best of men, and if the righteous scarcely be saved, where 
shall the ungodly and the sinner appear (1 Peter iv. 18) ? 
Their doom may be fixed any moment ; and though thi3 
thought should not make a man despair to-day, yet it 
should ever make him tremble for to-morrow 

Be you content with nothing short of perfection ; exert 
yourselves day by day to grow in knowledge and grace ; 
that, if so be, you may at length attain to the presence of 
Almighty God. 

Lastly, while we thus labour to mould our hearts after 
the pattern of the holiness of our heavenly Father, it is 
one comfort to know, -vhat I have already implied, that 
we are not left to ourselves, but that the Holy Ghost is 


graciously present with us, and enables us to triumph 
over and to change our own minds. It is a comfort and 
encouragement, while it is an anxious and an awful thing, 
to know that God works in and through us. We are the 
instruments, but we are only the instruments, of our own 
salvation. Let no one say that I discourage him, and 
propose to him a task beyond his strength. All of us 
have the gifts of grace pledged to us from our youth up. 
We know this well, but we do not use our privilege. 
We form mean ideas of the difficulty of our duties, and 
in consequence never enter into the greatness of the gifts 
given us to meet it. Then afterwards, if perchance we 
gain a deeper insight into the work we have to do, we 
think God a hard master, who commands much from a 
sinful race. Narrow indeed is the way of life, but infinite 
is His love and power who is with the Church, in Christ's 
place, to guide us along it. 


" Take ye heed, watch and pray ; for ye know not when the 
time is." — Mark xiii. 33. 

/~\UR Saviour gave this warning when He was leav- 
ing this world — leaving it, that is, as far as His 
visible presence is concerned. He looked forward to 
the many hundred years which were to pass before He 
came again. He knew His own purpose and His Father's 
purpose, gradually to leave the world to itself, gradually 
to withdraw from it the tokens of His gracious presence. 
He contemplated, as contemplating all things, the neglect 
of Him which would spread even among His professed 
followers ; the daring disobedience, and the loud words 
which would be ventured against Him and His Father 
by many whom He had regenerated ; and the coldness, 
cowardice, and tolerance of error which would be dis- 
played by others who did not go so far as to speak or 
to act against him. He foresaw the state of the world 
and the Church, as we see it this day, when His pro- 
longed absence has made it practically thought that He 
never will come back in visible presence : and in the 


text He mercifully whispers into our ears not to trust in 
what we see, not to share in that general unbelief, not to 
be carried away by the world ; but to " take heed, pray, 
watch," and look out for His coming. 

Surely this gracious warning should be ever in our 
thoughts, being so precise, so solemn, so earnest. He 
foretold His first coming, yet He took His Church by 
surprise when He came. Much more will He come 
suddenly the second time, and overtake men, now that 
He has not measured out the interval before it, as then 
He did, but left our watchfulness to the keeping of faith 
and love 

Now I consider this word watching, first used by our 
Lord, then by the favoured disciple, then by the two 
great apostles, Peter and Paul, is a remarkable word; 
remarkable because the idea is not so obvious as might 
appear at first sight, and next because they all inculcate 
it. We are not simply to believe, but to watch , not 
simply to love, but to watch ; not simply tu obey, but to 
watch. To watch for what ? for tnat great event, Christ's 
coming ! Whether inen we consider what is the obvious 
meaning of the word, or the object towards which it 
directs us, such as does not naturally come into our 
minds, most of us have a general idea what is meant by 
Delieving, fearing, loving, and obeying ; but perhaps we 
do not contemplate or apprehend what is meant by 


watching. I conceive it may be explained as follows. 
Do you know the feeling in matters of this life, of 
expecting a friend, expecting him to come, and he 
delays ? Do you know what it is to be in unpleasant 
company, and wish for the time to pass away, and the 
hour strike when you may be at liberty ? Do you know 
what it is to be in anxiety lest something should happen, 
which may happen or may not ; or to be in suspense 
about some important event, which makes your heart 
beat when you are reminded of it, and of which you 
think the first thing in the morning? Do you know 
what it is to have a friend in a distant country, to expect 
news of him, and to wonder from day to day what he is 
now doing, and whether he is well ? Do you know what 
it is so to live upon a person who is present with you, 
that your eyes follow his, that you read his soul, that you 
see all its changes in his countenance, that you anticipate 
his wishes, that you smile in his smile, and are sad in his 
sadness, and are downcast when he is vexed, and rejoice 
in his successes ? To watch for Christ is a feeling such 
as all these, as far as feelings of this world are fit to 
shadow out those of another. 

He watches for Christ who has a sensitive, eager, 
apprehensive mind ; who is awake, alive, quick-sighted, 
zealous in seeking and honouring Him ; who locks out 
for Him in all that happens, and who would not be sur 


prisad, who would not be over-agitated or overwhelmed, 
if he found that He was coming at once. 

And he watches with Christ, who, while he looks on to 
the future, looks back on the past, and does not so con- 
template what his Saviour has purchased for him as to 
forget what He has suffered for him. He watches with 
Christ who ever commemorates and renews in his own 
person Christ's cross and agony, and gladly takes up that 
mantle of affliction which Christ bore here, and left be- 
hind Him when He ascended 

This then is to watch ; to be detached from what is 
present, and to live in what is unseen; to live in the 
thought of Christ as He came once, and as He will come 
again ; to desure His second coming, from our affectionate 
and grateful remembrance of His first. " I will stand 
upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will 
watch to see what He will say unto me, and what I shall 
answer when I am reproved." When we reflect how 
rarely this temper of mind is found among professing 
Christians, we shall see why our Lord is so urgent in en- 
forcing it ; as if He said, " I am not warning you, my 
followers, against open apostacy — that will not be ; but I 
foresee that very few will keep awake and watch while I 
am away. Blessed are the servants who do so ; few will 
open to Me im mediately when I knock. They will have 
something to do first ; they will have to get ready They 


will have to recover from the surprise and confusion 
which overtake them on the first news of my coming, and 
will need time to collect themselves, and summon about 
them their better thoughts and affections. They feel 
themselves very well off as they are, and wish to serve 
God as they are. They are satisfied to remain on earth ; 
they do not wish to move ; they do not wish to change." 
Without denying, then, to these persons the praise of 
many religious habits and practices, I would say that they 
want the tender and sensitive heart which hangs on the 
thought of Christ, and lives in His love. The breath of 
the world has a peculiar power in what may be called 
rusting the soul. The mirror within them, instead of 
reflecting back the Son of God, their Saviour, has become 
dim and discoloured ; and hence, though (to use a com- 
mon expression) they have a good deal of good in them, 
it is not through them, around them, and upon them. 
An evil crust is on them; they think with the world; 
they are full of the world's notions and modes of speak- 
ing ; they appeal to the world, and have a sort of rever- 
ence for what the world will say. There is a want of 
naturalness, simplicity, and childlike teachableness in 
them. It is difficult to touch them, or (what may be 
called) get at them, and to persuade them to a straight- 
forward course in religion. They start off when you 
least expect it ; they have reservations, make distinctions, 


take exceptions, indulge in refinements, in questions 
where there are really but two sides, a right and a wrong. 
Their religious feelings do not flow forth easily ; at times 
when they ought to flow, either they are diffident and 
can say nothing, or else they are affected and strained in 
their mode of conversing. And as a rust preys upon 
metal and eats into it, so does this worldly spirit penetrate 
more and more deeply into the soul which once admits 
it And this is one great end, as it would appear, of 
afflictions, viz., to rub away and clear off these outward 
defilements, and to keep the soul in a measure of its 
baptismal purity and brightness. 

Now it cannot surely be doubted that multitudes in 
the Church are such as I have been describing, and that 
they would not, could not, at once welcome our Lord on 
His coming. We cannot indeed apply what has been 
said to this or that individual ; but on the whole, viewing 
the multitude, one cannot be mistaken. There may be 
exceptions ; but after all conceivable deductions, a large 
body must remain thus double-minded, thus attempting 
to unite things impossible. This we might be sure of, 
though Christ had said nothing on the subject ; but it is 
a most affecting and solemn thought that He has actually 
called our attention to this very danger, the danger of a 
worldly religiousness, for so it may be called, though it is 
reiigiousness, this mixture of religion and unbelief which 


serves God indeed, but loves the fashions, the distinctions, 
the pleasures, the comforts of this life — which feels a 
satisfaction in being prosperous in circumstances, likes 
pomps and vanities, is particular about food, raiment, 
house, furniture, and domestic matters, court3 great 
people, and aims at having a position in society. He 
warns His disciples of the danger of having their minds 
drawn off from the thought of Him, by whatever cause. 
He warns them against all excitements, all allurements 
of this world. He solemnly warns them that the world 
will not be prepared for His coming, and tenderly 
entreats of them not to take their portion with the world. 
He warns them by the instance of the rich man whose 
soul was required, of the servant who ate and drank, and 
of the foolish virgins. When He comes, they will one 
and all want time; their heads will be confused, their 
eyes will swim, their tongues falter, their limbs totter, as 
men who are suddenly awakened. They will not all at 
once collect their senses and faculties. O fearful 
thought ! the bridal train is sweeping by — angels are 
there — the just made perfect are there — little children, 
and holy teachers, and white-robed saints, and martyrs 
washed in blood ; the marriage of the Lamb is come, and 
His wife hath made herself ready. She has already 
attired herself while we have been sleeping. She has 
been robing ; she has been adding jewel to jewel, and 



grace to grace; she has been gathering in her chosen 
ones one by one, and has been exercising them in holi- 
ness, and purifying them for her Lord ; and now her 
marriage hour is come. The holy Jerusalem is ascending, 
and a loud voice proclaims : " Behold the Bridegroom 
cometh, go ye out to meet Him !" But we, alas ! are but 
dazzled with the blaze of light, and neither welcome the 
sound, nor obey it — and all for what ? What shall we 
have gained then ? What will this world have then done 
for us ? Wretched, deceiving world, which will then be 
burnt up, unable not only to profit us, but to save itself. 
Miserable hour, indeed, will that be, when the full con- 
sciousness breaks on us of what we will not believe now, 
that we are at present serving the world. We trifle with 
our conscience now ; we deceive our better judgment ; 
we repel the hints of those who tell us that we are giving 
ourselves to this perishing world. We will taste a little 
of its pleasures, and follow its ways, and think it no harm 
so that we do not altogether neglect religion. 

Year passes after year silently ; Christ's coming is ever 
nearer than it was. O that, as He comes nearer earth, we 
may approach nearer heaven ! Oh, my brethren, pray 
Him to give you the heart to seek Him in sincerity ! Pray 
Him to make you in earnest. You have one work only, 
to bear your cross after Him. Resolve, in His strength, 
to do so; resolve to be no longer beguiled by "shadows 


of religion," by words, or by disputings, or by notions, or 
by high professions, or by excuses, or by the world's pro- 
mises or threats. Pray Him to give you what Scripture 
calls " an honest and good heart," or " a perfect heart f 
and, without waiting, begin at once to obey Him with 
the best heart you have. Any obedience is better than 
none — any profession which is disjoined from obedience 
is a mere pretence and deceit. Any religion which does 
not bring you nearer God is of the world. You have to 
seek his face ; obedience is the only way of seeing Him. 
All your duties are obediences. If you are to believe 
the truths He has revealed, to regulate yourselves by His 
precepts, to be frequent in His ordinances, to adhere to 
His church and people, why is it, except because He has 
bid you ? and to do what He bids is to obey Him, and to 
obey Him is to approach Him. Every act of obedience 
is an approach — an approach to Him who is not far off, 
though He seems so, but close behind this visible screen 
of things which hides Him from us. He is behind this 
material framework ; earth and sky are but a veil going 
between Him and us ; the day will come when He will 
rend that veil, and show Himself to us. And then, 
according as we have waited for Him, will He recompense 
us. If we have forgotten Him, He will not know us ; 
but " blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when He 
cometh, shall find watching He shall 


gird Himself, and make them sit down to meat, and 
will come forth and serve them. And if He shall come 
in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and 
find them so, blessed are those servants." May this b< 
the portion of every one of us ! It is hard to attain it, 
but it is woful to fail. Life is short ; death is certain ; 
and the world to come is everlasting. 


** He who testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. 
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." — Rev. xxii. 20. 

"\ \ 7"HEN our Lord was going away, He said He would 
quickly come again; yet, knowing that by 
" quickly " He did not mean what would be at first sight 
understood by the word, He added, " suddenly," or " as 
a thief." "Behold I come as a thief; blessed is he that 
watcheth, and keepeth his garments" (Rev. xvi. 15). 
Had His coming been soon, in our sense of the word, 
it could not well have been sudden. Servants who are 
bid to wait for their master's return from an enter- 
tainment, could not, one should think, be overtaken by 
that return. It was because to us His coming would not 
seem soon, that it was sudden. What you expect to 
come, you wait for; what fails to come, you give up. 
While, then, Christ said that His coming would be soon, 
yet by saying it would be sudden, He said that to us it 
would seem long. 

Is it not something significant that, in the last book of 


Scripture, which more than any other implies a long 
continuance to the Christian Church, that there we 
should read such express and repeated assurances that 
Christ's coming would be speedy? Even in the last 
chapter we are told it three times. "Behold, I come 
quickly; blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the 
prophecy of this book." " Behold, I come quickly, and 
My reward is with Me." And again, in the text, " He 
that testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly." 
Such is the announcement ; and in consequence we are 
commanded to be ever looking out for the great day, 
to " wait for His Son from heaven f to " look and haste 
unto the coming of the day of God." 

It is true, indeed, that in one place St. Paul cautions 
his brethren against expecting the immediate coming of 
Christ, but he does not say more than that Christ will 
send a sign immediately before His coming — a certain 
dreadful enemy of the truth — which is to be followed by 
Himself at once, and therefore does not stand in our 
way, or prevent eager eyes from looking out for Him. 
And, in truth, St. Paul seems rather to be warning his 
brethren against being disappointed if Christ did not 
come, than hindering them from expecting Him. 

Now it may be objected that this is a kind of paradox. 
How is it possible, it may be asked, ever to be expecting 
what has so long been delayed ? What has been so long 


coming, may be longer still. It was possible, indeed, 
for the early Christians, who had no experience of the 
long period which the Church was to remain on earth, 
to look out for Christ, but we cannot help using our 
reason. There are no more grounds to expect Christ now 
than at those many former times when, as the events 
showed, He did not come. Christians have ever been 
expecting the last day, and have ever been disappointed. 
They have seen what they thought symptoms of His 
coming, and peculiarities in their own times, which a 
little more knowledge of the world, a more enlarged 
experience, would have shown them to be common to 
all times. They have been ever frightened without good 
reason, fretting in their narrow minds, and building on 
their superstitious fancies. What age of the world has 
there been in which people did not think the Day of 
Judgment coming ? Such expectation has but evidenced 
and fostered indolence and superstition : it is to be con- 
sidered as a mere weakness. 

Now I shall attempt to say something in answer to 
this objection. 

First, considered as an objection to a habit of con- 
tinual waiting, it proves too much, as it is called. If it 
is consistently followed up, no age ought ever to expect 
the day of Christ; the age in which He shall come (what- 
ever it is) ought not to expect him — which is the very 


thing He has warned us against. He nowhere warns 
us against what is contemptuously called superstition ; 
but He expressly warns us against highminded 
security. If it be true that Christians have expected 
Him when He did not come, it is quite as true that when 
He does come the world will not expect Him. If it be 
true that Christians have fancied signs of His coming 
when there were none, it is equally true that the world 
will not see the signs of His coming when they are pre- 
sent. His signs are not so plain but you have to search 
for them ; not so plain but you may be mistaken in your 
search ; and your choice lies between the risk of thinking 
you see what is not, and of not seeing what is. True it 
is, that many times, many ages, have Christians been 
mistaken in thinking they discerned Christ's coming; 
but better a thousand times think Him coming when he 
is not, than once think Him not coming when He is. 
Such is the difference between Scripture and the world : 
judging by Scripture, you would ever be expecting 
Christ ; judging by the world, you would never expect 
Him. Now He must come one day, sooner or later. 
Worldly men have their scoff at our failure of discern- 
ment now ; but whose will be the want of discernment, 
whose the triumph then ? And what does Christ think 
of their present scoff? He expressly warns us, by His 
apostle, of scoffers, who shall say, " Where is the promise 


of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all 
things continue as they were from the beginning of the 
creation .... But, beloved," continues St, Peter, "be 
not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the 
Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as 
one day." 

It should be recollected, too, that the enemies of Christ 
have ever been expecting the downfall of His religion 
age after age ; and I do not see why the one expectation 
is more unreasonable than the other; indeed, they 
illustrate each other. So it is, undeterred by the failure 
of former anticipations, unbelievers are ever expecting 
that the Church and the religion of the Church are 
coming to an end. They thought so in the last century ; 
they think so now. They ever think the light of truth is 
going out, and that their hour of victory is come. . ... 

Now, when Christians and unbelievers thus unite in 
expecting substantially the same thing, though they view 
it differently, according to their respective modes of 
thought, there cannot be anything very extravagant in 
the expectation itself. The Christian has said : " All 
looks so full of tumult, that the world is coming to an 
end." The unbeliever has said : "All is so full of tumult, 
that the Church is coming to an end ;" and there is nothing 
surely more superstitious in the one opinion than in the 
other. Ever since Christianity came into the world, it 


has been, in one sense, going out of it. It is so uncon- 
genial to the human mind ; it is so spiritual, and man is 
so earthly ; it is apparently so defenceless, and . has so 
many strong enemies, so many false friends, that every 
age, as it comes, may be called " the last time." It has 
made great conquests and done great works ; but still it 
has done all, as the apostle says of himself, " in weakness 
and in fear, and in much trembling." How it is that it 
is always failing, yet always continuing, God only knows 
who wills it — but so it is ; and it is no paradox to say, on 
the one hand, that it has lasted eighteen hundred years, 
that it may last many years more, and yet that it draws 
to an end, nay, is likely to end any day. And God 
would have us give our minds and hearts to the latter 
side of the alternative, to open them to impressions from 
this side, viz., that the end is coming — it being a whole- 
some thing to live as if that will come in our day which 
may come any day. 

It was different during the ages before Christ came. 
He was to come. He was to bring perfection, and 
religion was to grow towards that perfection. There 
was a system of successive revelations going on, first one 
and then another ; each prophet in his turn adding to the 
store of divine truth, and gradually tending towards the 
full Gospel. Time was measured out for believing minds 
before Christ came, by the word of prophecy ; so that He 


never could be expected in any age before the " fulness 
of time " in which He came. The chosen people were not 
bidden to expect Him at once ; but after a sojourning in 
Canaan, and a captivity in Egypt, and a wandering in the 
wilderness, and judges, and kings, and prophets, at length 
seventy long weeks were determined to introduce Him 
into the world. Thus His delay was, as I may say, 
recognized then ; and during His delay, other doctrines, 
other rules, were given to fill the interval. But when 
once the Christ had come, as the Son over His own 
house, and with His perfect Gospel, nothing remained 
but to gather in His saints. No higher priest could 
come — no truer doctrine. The Light and Life of men 
had appeared, and had suffered, and had risen again; 
and nothing more was left to do. Earth had had its 
most solemn event, and seen its most august sight ; and 
therefore it was the last time. And hence, though time 
intervene between Christ's first and second coming, it 
is not recognized (as I may say) in the Gospel scheme, 
but is, as it were, an accident. For so it was, that up to 
Christ's coming in the flesh, the course of things ran 
straight towards it, nearing it by every step ; but now, 
under the Gospel, that course has (if I may so speak) 
altered its direction as regards His second coming, 
and runs, not towards it, but along it, and on the brink 
of it, and is at all times equally near that great event 


which, did it run towards, it would at once run into. 
Christ, then, is ever at our doors; as near eighteen 
hundred years ago as now, and not nearer now than then ; 
and not nearer when He comes than now. When He 
says that He will come soon, " soon " is not a word of 
time, but of natural order. This present state of things, 
" the present distress," as St. Paul calls it, is ever close 
upon the next world, and resolves itself into it. As when 
a man is given over, he may die any moment, yet lingers ; 
as an implement of war may any moment explode, and 
must at some time ; as we listen for a clock to strike, 
and at length it surprises us ; as a crumbling arch hangs, 
we know not how, yet is not safe to pass under; so 
creeps on this feeble, weary world ; and one day, before 

we know where we are, it will end 

I observe then, that though Christians might be mis- 
taken in what they took to be signs of Christ's coming, 
yet they were not wrong in their state of mind; they 
were not mistaken in looking out, and that for Christ. 
Whether credulous or not, they only acted as one acts 
towards some person beloved, or revered, or admired on 
earth. Consider the mode in which loyal persons look 
up to a good prince. You will find stories current up 
and down the country in his favour ; people delight in 
believing that they have fallen in with tokens of his bene- 
ficence, nobleness, and paternal kindness. Many of these 


reports are false, yet others are true ; and, on the whole, 
we should not think highly of that man who, instead of 
being touched at this mutual sympathy between sovereign 
and people, occupied himself merely in carping at what 
he called their credulity, and sifting the accuracy of this 
or that particular story. A great thing, truly, after all, 
to be able to detect a few misstatements, and to expose 
a few fictions, and to be without a heart ! And, forsooth, 
on the other hand, a sad deficiency in that people, I sup- 
pose, merely to be right on the whole, not in every par- 
ticular, and to have the heart right ! Who would envy 
such a man's knowledge ? Who would not rather have 
that people's ignorance ? And in like manner, I had 
rather be he who, from love of Christ and want of science, 
thinks some strange sight in the sky, comet or meteor, 
to be the sign of His coming, than the man who, from 
more knowledge and from lack of love, laughs at the 


And you will observe that, in the case of which I am 
speaking, persons who are looking out for Christ are not 
only in looking out acting in obedience to Him, but are 
looking out in the very way they look out, through the 
very signs through which they look out, in obedience 
to Him. Always since the first, Christians have been 
looking out for Christ in the signs of the natural and 
moral world. If they have been poor and uneducated, 


strange sights in the sky, or tremblings in the ground, 
storms, failure of harvest, or disease, or anything monstrous 
and unnatural, has made them think that He was at 
hand. If they were in a way to take a view of the social 
and political world, then the troubles of states, wars, revo- 
lutions, and the like, have been additional circumstances 
which served to impress them, and kept their hearts 
awake for Christ. Now all these are nothing else but 
those very things which He Himself has told us to dwell 
upon, and has given us as signs of His coming. " There 
shall be signs," He says, " in the sun, and in the moon, 
and in the stars ; and upon the earth distress of nations, with 
perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring ; men's hearts 
failing them for fear, and for looking after those things 
which are coming on the earth ; for the powers of heaven 

shall be shaken And when these things begin 

to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads, for your 
redemption draweth nigh." One day the lights of heaven 
will be signs ; one day the affairs of nations also will be 
signs. Why, then, is it superstitious to look towards 
them? It is not. We may be wrong in the particulars we 
rest upon, and may show our ignorance in doing so ; but 
there is nothing ridiculous or contemptible in our igno- 
rance, and there is much that is religious in our watch- 
ing. It is better to be wrong in our watching, than not 
to watch at alL . . . . 


Surely there can be no great harm, and nothing very 
ridiculous, where men are religious, in thus thinking the 
events of their day more than ordinary ; in fancying that 
the world's matters are winding up, and that events are 
thickening for a final visitation ; for, let it be observed, 
Scripture sanctions us in interpreting all that we see in 
the world in a religious sense, and as if all things were 
tokens and revelations of Christ, His providence and 
will. I mean, that if this lower world, which seems to go 
on in its own way, independently of Him, governed by 
fixed laws or swayed by lawless hearts, will nevertheless, 
in an awful way, herald His coming to judge it, surely it 
is not impossible that the same world, both in its physical 
order and its temporal course, speaks of Him also in other 
manners. At first, indeed, one might argue that this 
world did but speak a language contrary to him ; that in 
Scripture it is described as opposed to God, to truth, to 
faith, to heaven ; that it is said to be a deceitful veil, 
misrepresenting things, and keeping the soul from God. 
How then, it may be asked, can this world have upon it 
tokens of His presence, or bring us near to Him ? Yet 
certainly so it is, that in spite of the world's evil, after all, 
He is in it, and speaks through it, though not loudly. 
When He came in the flesh, " He was in the world, and 
the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him 
not." Nor did He strive nor cry, nor lift up His voice in 


the streets. So it is now. He still is here; He still 
whispers to us ; He still makes signs to us. But His voice 
is so low, and the world's din is so loud, and His signs 
are so covert, and the world is so restless, that it is 
difficult to determine when He addresses us and what 
He says. Religious men cannot but feel in various ways 
that His providence is guiding them and blessing them 
personally on the whole ; yet when they attempt to put 
their finger upon the times and places, the traces of His 
presence disappear. Who is there, for instance, but has 
been favoured with answers to prayer, such that, at the 
time, he has felt he never could again be unbelieving ? 
Who has not had strange coincidences in his course of 
life which brought before him in an overpowering way 
the hand of God? Who has not had thoughts come 
upon him with a sort of mysterious force, for his warning 
or his direction ? And some persons, perhaps, experience 
stranger things still. Wonderful providences have before 
now been brought about by means of dreams; or in 
other still more unusual ways Almighty God has at times 
interposed. And then, again, things which come before 
our eyes, in such wise take the form of types and omens of 
things moral or future, that the spirit within us cannot 
but reach forward and presage what it is not told from 
what it sees. And sometimes these presages are remark- 
ably fulfilled in the event. And then, again, the fortunes 


of men are so singularly various, as if a law of success 
and prosperity embraced a certain number, and a con- 
trary law others. All this being so, and the vastness and 
mystery of the world being borne in upon us, we begin 
to think that there is nothing here below but, for what we 
know, may have a connexion with everything else. The 
most distant events may yet be united, and meanest and 
highest may be parts of one ; and God may be teaching 
us and offering us knowledge of His ways, if we will but 
open our eyes, in all the ordinary matters of the day 
This is what thoughtful persons come to believe; and 
they begin to show a sort of faith in the divine meaning 
of the accidents (as they are called) of life, and a readi- 
ness to take impressions from them, which may easily 
become excessive, and which, whether excessive or not, 
is sure to be ridiculed by the world at large as super- 
stitious. Yet, considering Scripture tells us that the 
very hairs of our head are all numbered by God, that 
all things work together for our good, it does certainly 
encourage us in thus looking out for His presence in 
everything that happens, however trivial, and in trusting 
that to religious ears even the bad world prophesies of 


" I have all, and abound ; I am full." — Phil. iv. 18. 

QUCH is St. Paul's confession concerning his temporal 
condition, even in the midst of his trials. Those 
trials brought with them spiritual benefits, but even as 
regarded this world he felt he had cause for joy and 
thankfulness, in spite of sorrows, pains, labours, and self- 
denials. He did not look on this life with bitterness, 
complain of it morosely, or refuse to enjoy it ; he was 
not soured as the children of men often are by his trials ; 
but he felt that if he had troubles in this world, he had 
blessings also ; and he did not reject these, but made much 
of them. " I have all, and abound ; I am full," he says. 
And elsewhere he tells us, that " every creature of God is 
good ;" and that " godliness is profitable unto all things, 
having the promise of the life that now is, and of that 
which is to come." 

Gloom is no Christian temper ; that repentance is not 
real which has not love in it ; that self-chastisement is 
not acceDtable which is not sweetened by faith and 


cheerfulness. We must live in sunshine, even when we 
sorrow j we must live in God's presence ; we must not 
shut ourselves up in our own hearts, even when we are 

reckoning up our past sins 

We ought to bless and praise God that we have the 
gift of life. By this I mean not merely that we live, but 
for those blessings which are included in the notion of 
our living. He has made life in its very nature to 
imply the existence of certain blessings which are them- 
selves a happiness, and which bring it to pass, that in 
spite of all evils, life in itself, except in rare cases, cannot 
be otherwise than desirable. We cannot live without 
the means of life ; without the means of life we should 
die ; and the means of life are means of pleasure. It 
might have been so ordered that life could not have 
been sustained without the use of such means as 
were indifferent, neither pleasurable nor painful, or of 
means which were even painful ; as in the case of illness 
or disease, when we actually find that we cannot pre- 
serve it without painful remedies. Now, supposing the 
ordinary ways of preserving it had been what are now 
but extraordinary ; supposing food were medicine; sup- 
posing wounds or blows imparted health and strength. 
But it is not so. On the contrary, life consists in things 
pleasant ; it is sustained by blessings. And moreover, 
the Gospel, by a solemn grant, guarantees these things 


to us. After the flood, God Almighty condescended to 
promise that there never should be such a flood again ; 
that seed-time and harvest should not fail. He ratified 
the stability of nature by His own word, and by that 
word it is upheld. And in like manner He has, in 
a special way, guaranteed to us in the Gospel that law of 
nature whereby good and pleasant gifts are included in 
our idea of life, and life becomes a blessing. He might, 
did He so will, sustain us Christians not by bread only, 
but by every word that proceedeth out of His mouth. 
But He has not done so. He has pledged to us those 
ordinary means of sustenance which we naturally like. 
" Bread shall be given us, our water shall be sure." " All 
these things shall be added unto us." He has not indeed 
promised us what the world calls its great prizes ; He 
has not promised us those goods, so called, of which the 
goodness depends on the imagination; He has not 
promised us large estates, magnificent domains, houses 
like palaces, sumptuous furniture, retainers and servants, 
chariots and horses, rank, name, credit, popularity, power, 
the deference of others, the indulgence of our wills, luxury, 
sensual enjoyments. These, on the contrary, He denies 
us ; and withal He declares, that, specious and inviting as 
they are, really they are evil. But still He has promised 
that this shall be His rule ; that thus shall it be fulfilled 
to us as His ordinary providence ; that life shall not be a 


burthen to us, but a blessing, and shall contain more to 
comfort than to afflict. And giving us as much as this, 
He bids us be satisfied with it. He bids us confess that 
we " have all " when we have so much ; that we 
" abound " when we have enough. He promises us food, 
raiment, and lodging ; and He bids us, " having food and 
raiment, therewith to be content." He bids us be con- 
tent with those gifts, and withal unsolicitous about 
them; tranquil, secure, and confident, because He has 
promised them. He bids us be sure that we shall have 
so much, and not be disappointed that it is no more. 
Such is His merciful consideration of us. He does not 
separate us from this world, though He calls us out of it ; 
He does not reject our old nature when He gives us a 
new one ; He does but redeem it from the curse, and 
purify it from the infection which came through Adam, 
and is none of His. He especially blesses the creation 
to our use, though we be regenerate. " Every creature 
of God," says the Apostle, " is good, and nothing to be 
refused, if it be received with thanksgiving, for it is sanc- 
tified by the word of God and prayer." He does not 
bid us renounce the creation, but associates us with the 
most beautiful portions of it. He likens us to the 
flowers with which He has ornamented the earth, and to 
the birds that live solitary under heaven, and makes 
them the type of a Christian. He denies us Solomon's 


regal magnificence, to unite us to the lilies of the field 
and the fowls of the air. " Take no thought for your 
life, what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink j nor yet 
for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life 
more than meat, and the body than raiment ? Behold 
the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they 
reap, nor gather into barns ; yet your heavenly Father 
feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they ? . . 
. . And why take ye thought for raiment ? Consider the 
lilies of the field, how they grow ; they toil not, neither 
do they spin ; and yet I say unto you, that even 
Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of 
these." Here, then, surely, is a matter for joy and thank- 
fulness at all seasons 

Again, what a great blessing is the gift of sleep ! 
Almighty God does not suffer us to be miserable for a 
long time together, even when He afflicts us, but He 
breaks our trials into portions ; takes us out of this world 
ever and anon, and gives us a holiday-time, like children 
at school, in an unknown and mysterious country. 

All this, then, must be borne in mind in reflecting 
on those solemn and sobering truths concerning the 
Christian's calling which it is necessary often to insist 
upon. It is often said, and truly, that the Christian is 
born to trouble, that sorrow is the rule with him, and 
pleasure the exception. But when this is said, the 


question is one of seasons, circumstances, events, such 
things as are adventitious and additional to the gift of 
life itself. The Christian's lot is one of sorrow ; but, as 
the regenerate life within him is happiness, so is the gift of 
natural life also. We live, therefore we are happy ; upon 
this life of ours come joys and sorrows ; and in proportion 
as we are favourites of God, it is sorrow that comes, not 
joy. Still, after all, considered in ourselves, that we live ; 
that God breathes in us ; that we exist in Him ; that we 
think and act ; that we have the means of life ; that we 
have food, and sleep, and raiment, and lodging; and 
that we are not lonely, but in God's Church, and are 
sure of brethren by the very token of our having a 
Father which is in heaven ; — so far, rejoicing is the 
very condition of our being, and all pain is little more 
than external, not reaching to our inmost heart. So far, 
all men almost are on a level, seasons of sickness 
excepted. Even delicate health and feebleness of life 
does not preclude these pleasures. And as to seasons of 
sickness, or even long and habitual pain or disease, the 
good Lord can compensate for them in His own way by 
extraordinary supplies of grace ; as in early times He 
made even the torments of Christians in persecution 
literally pleasant to them. He who so ordered it that 
even the red-hot iron did feel pleasant to the martyrs after 
a while, cannot fail of means to support His servants 


when life becomes a burthen. But, generally speaking, 
it is a happiness, and that to all ranks. High and low, 
rich and poor, have the same refreshment in their 
pilgrimage. Hunger is as pleasantly appeased by the 
low as by the high, on coarse fare as on delicate. 
Sleep is equally the comfort and recruiting of rich and 
poor. We eat, drink, and sleep, whether we are in sorrow 
or in joy, in anxiety or in hope. Our natural life is the 
type of our spiritual life, and thus, in a literal as well as 
higher sense, we may bless Him " who saveth our life 
from destruction, and crowneth us with mercy and 
loving-kindness ; who satisfieth our mouth with good 
things, making us young and lusty as an eagle." 

Again, consider the blessings which we have in 
Christian brotherhood. In the beginning, woman was 
made, that man might not be alone, but might have a 
helpmate for him j and our Lord promised that all who 
gave up this world and this world's kindred for Him should 
" receive manifold more in this present time, houses, and 
brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and 
lands, with persecutions." You see He mentions the 
troubles of Christians, which were their lot as Christians ; 
but still these did not interfere with the prior law of their 
very nature, that they should not be friendless. As food 
and raiment are necessary conditions of life, society is an 
inseparable adjunct of it. God does not take away food 


and raiment when He gives us grace, nor does He take 
away brotherhood. He removes from the world to put 
into the Church. Religion without a Church is as un- 
natural as life without food and raiment. He began 
our life anew, but He built it up upon the same founda- 
tions ; and as He did not strip us of our body when He 
made us Christians, neither did He of social ties. Christ 
finds us in the double tabernacle of a house of flesh and 
a house of brethren, and He sanctifies both, not pulls 
them down. Our first life is in ourselves ; our second in 
our friends. They whom God forces to part with their 
near of kin for His sake, find brethren in the spirit at 
their side. They who remain solitary for His sake, have 
children in the spirit raised up to them. How should 
we thank God for this great benefit ! 

We, through God's mercy, whether we be young or 
old, whether we have many friends or few, if we be 
Christ's, shall all along our pilgrimage find those in whom 
we may live, who will love us, and whom we may love ; 
who will aid us, and help us forward, and comfort us, and 
close our eyes. For His love is a secret gift, which, 
unseen by the world, binds together those in whom it 
lives, and makes them love and sympathize in one 


u Woe unto you that are rich ! for ye have received your 
consolation." — LUKE vi. 24. 

T TNLESS we were accustomed to read the New Testa- 
ment from our childhood, I think we should be 
very much struck with the warnings which it contains, 
not only against the love of riches, but the very possession 
of them. We should wonder with a portion of that asto- 
nishment which the apostles at first felt, who had been 
brought up in the notion that they were a chief reward 
which God bestowed on those He loved. As it is, we 
have heard these most solemn declarations so continually, 
that we have ceased to attach any distinct meaning to 
them j or if our attention is at any time drawn more 
closely to them, we soon dismiss the subject, on some 
vague imagination that what is said in Scripture had a 
reference to the particular times when Christ came, 
without attempting to settle its exact application to us, 
or whether it has any such application at all ; as if the 


circumstance that the application requires care and 
thought were an excuse for giving no thought nor care 
whatever to the settling of it. 

But even if we had ever so little concern in the Scrip- 
ture denunciations against riches and the love of riches, 
the very awfulness of them might have seemed enough 
to save them from neglect ; just as the Flood and the 
judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah are still dwelt upon 
by Christians with solemn attention, though we have a 
promise against the recurrence of the one, and trust we 
shall never be so deserted by God's grace as to call down 
upon us the other. And this consideration may lead a 
man to suspect that the neglect in question does not 
entirely arise from unconcern, but from a sort of mis- 
giving that the subject of riches is one which cannot be 
safely or comfortably discussed without placing the 
claims of God's law and the pride of life into visible and 
perplexing opposition. Let us then see what the letter 
of Scripture says on the subject. For instance, consider 
the text : " Woe unto you that are rich ! for ye have 
received your consolation." The words are sufficiently 
clear, it will not be denied, as spoken of rich persons in 
our Saviour's days. Let the full force of the word " con- 
solation " be observed. It is used by way of contrast to 
the comfort which is promised to the Christian in the 
list of beatitudes. Comfort, in all the fulness of that word, 


as including help, guidance, encouragement, and support, 
is the promise of the Gospel. The promised Spirit who 
has taken Christ's place was called by Him the " Com- 
forter." There is then something very fearful in the in- 
timation of the text, that those who have riches thereby 
receive their portion, such as it is, in full, instead of the 
heavenly gift of the Gospel. The same doctrine is im- 
plied in our Lord's words in the parable of Dives and 
Lazarus. u Son, remember thou in thy lifetime receivedst 
thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things ; but 
now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." At another 
time He said to His disciples, " How hardly shall they 
that have riches enter into the kingdom of God ! For 
it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than 
for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." 

Now it is usual to dismiss such passages with the 
remark that they are directed, not against those who have, 
but against those who trust in riches; as if, forsooth, 
they implied no connection between the having and the 
trusting ; no warning lest the possession lead to the idola- 
trous reliance on them ; no necessity of fear and anxiety 
in the possessors, lest they should become castaways. 
And this irrelevant distinction is supposed to find coun- 
tenance in our Lord's own language on one of the occa- 
sions above referred to, in which he first says, " How 
hardly shall they that have riches ;" then, " How hard it is 


for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom 
of God ;" whereas surely He only removes His disciples' 
false impression that the bare circumstance of possessing 
wealth was inconsistent with a state of salvation, and no 
more interprets having hy trusting than makes trusting 
essential to having. He connects the two without iden- 
tifying, without explaining away ; and the simple question 
which lies for our determination is this : Whether, con- 
sidering that they who had riches when Christ came were 
likely in His judgment idolatrously to trust in them, there 
is, or is not, reason for thinking that this likelihood 
varies materially in different ages ? and according to the 
solution of this question must we determine the applica- 
tion of the woe pronounced in the text to these times. 
And, at all events, let it be observed, it is for those who 
would make out that these passages do not apply now, 
to give their reasons for their opinion : the burden of 
proof is with them. Till they draw their clear and 
reasonable distinction between the first and nineteenth 
century, the denunciation hangs over the world that is, 
as much as over the Pharisees and Sadducees at our 
Lord's coming. 

But, in truth, that our Lord meant to speak of riches 
as being in some sense a calamity to the Christian, is 
plain, not only from such texts as the foregoing, but from 
His praises and recommendation on the other hand of 


poverty. For instance : " Sell that ye have and give alms ; 
provide yourselves bags which wax not old." " If thou 
wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to 
the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven." 
" Blessed be ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." 
" When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy 
friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy 
rich neighbours — but — call the poor, the maimed, the 
lame, the blind." And in like manner St. James : " Hath 
He not chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and 
heirs of that kingdom which He hath promised to them 
that love Him ?" Now I cite these texts in the way of 
doctrine, not of precept. Whatever be the line of 
conduct they prescribe to this or that individual (with 
which I have nothing to do at present), so far seems 
clear, that according to the rule of the Gospel, the ab- 
sence of wealth is, as such, a more blessed and a more 
Christian state than the possession of it. 

The most obvious danger which worldly possessions 
present to our spiritual welfare is, that they become 
practically a substitute in our hearts for that one object 
to which our supreme devotion is due. They are present ; 
God is unseen. They are means at hand of effecting 
what we want : whether God will hear our petitions foi 
such things is uncertain ; or rather, I may say, certain in 
the negative. Thus they minister to the corrupt inclina 


tions of our nature. They promise and are able to be 
gods to us, and such gods, too, as require no service ; 
but, like dumb idols, exalt the worshipper, impressing 
him with a notion of his own power and security. And 
in this consists their chief and most subtle mischief. 
Religious men are able to repress, nay, extirpate sinful 
desires, the lust of the flesh and of the eyes, gluttony, 
drunkenness, and the like, love of amusements, and 
frivolous pleasures and display, indulgences or luxuries 
of whatever kind ; but as to wealth, they cannot 
easily rid themselves of a secret feeling that it gives 
them a footing to stand upon, an importance, a 
superiority ; and in consequence they get attached to 
this world, lose sight of the duty of bearing the cross, 
become dull and dim-sighted, and lose their delicacy and 
precision of touch; are numbed (so to say) in their 
fingers'-ends as regards religious interests and prospects. 
To risk all upon Christ's word seems somehow unnatural 
to them, extravagant, and evidences a morbid excitement ; 
and death, instead of being a gracious, however awful 
release, is not a welcome subject of thought. They are 
content to remain as they are, and do not contemplate 
a change. They desire and mean to serve God ; they 
actually do serve Him in their measure ; but not with 
the keen sensibilities, the noble enthusiasm, the grandeur 
and elevation of soul, the dutifulness and affectionateness 


towards Christ which becomes a Christian; but as Jews 
might obey, who had no image of God given them 
except this created world, " eating their bread with joy, 
and drinking their wine with a merry heart ;" caring that 
"their garments be always white, and their head lacking 
no ointment ; living joyfully with the wife whom they love 
all the days of the life of their vanity," and " enjoying the 
good of their labour" (Eccles. ix. 7-9, v. 18). Not of 
course that the due use of God's temporal blessings is 
wrong ; but to make them the object of our affections, 
to allow them to beguile us from the "one husband" to 
whom we are espoused, is to mistake the Gospel for 

This then, if we may venture to say so, was some 
part of our Saviour's meaning, when He connected to- 
gether the having with the trusting in riches. Our 
Saviour seems further to warn us in His description of 
the thorns, in the parable of the Sower, as being the cares 
of this world, and the " deceitfulness of riches ;" and more 
clearly in the parable of the Great Supper, where the 
guests excuse themselves, one as having " bought a piece 
of ground," another, "five yoke of oxen." Still more 
openly does St. Paul speak in his first Epistle to 
Timothy : " They that desire to be rich fall into temp- 
tation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful 
lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 


For the love of money is the root of all evil ; which, 
while some coveted after, they have, erred from the 
faith, and pierced themselves through with many 

The danger of possessing riches is the carnal security 
to which they lead ; that of desiring and pursuing them 
is, that an object of this world is thus set before us as 
the aim and end of life. It seems to be the will of 
Christ that His followers shall have no aim or end, 
pursuit or business, merely of this world. Here, again, 
I speak as before, not in the way of precept, but of 
doctrine. I am looking at His holy religion as at a 
distance, and determining what is its general character 
and spirit, not what may happen to be the duty of this 
or that individual who has embraced it. It is His will 
that all we do should be done, not unto men, or to the 
world, or to self, but to His glory ; and the more we are 
enabled to do this simply, the more favoured we are 
whenever we act with reference to an object of this 
world. Even though it be ever so pure, we are exposed to 
the temptation (not irresistible, God forbid ! still to the 
temptation) of setting our hearts upon obtaining it. And, 
therefore, we call all such objects excitements, as stimulat- 
ing us incongruously ; casting us out of the serenity and 
stability of heavenly faith ; attracting us aside by theii 
proximity from our harmonious round of duties ; and 

2 A 


making our thoughts converge to something short of that 
which is infinitely high and eternal. Such excitements 
are of perpetual occurrence, and the mere undergoing 
them, so far from involving guilt in the act itself or its 
results, is the great business of life and the discipline 
of our hearts. It is often a sin to withdraw from them, 
as has been the case of some perhaps who have gone 
into monasteries to serve God more entirely. On the other 
hand, it is the very duty of the spiritual ruler to labour 
for the flock committed to him, to suffer and to dare. St. 
Paul was encompassed with excitements hence arising, 
and his writings show the agitating effect of them on his 
mind. He was like David, a man of war and blood, 
and that for our sakes. Still it holds good that the 
essential spirit of the Gospel is " quietness and confidence;" 
that the possession of these is the highest gift, and to 
gain them perfectly our main aim. Consequently, how- 
ever much a duty it is to undergo excitements when they 
are sent upon us, it is plainly unchristian, a manifest 
foolishness and sin, to seek out any such, whether secular 

or religious 

Men of energetic minds and talents for action are 
called to a life of trouble ; they are the compensations 
and antagonists of the world's evils ; still let them never 
forget their place. They are men of war, and we war 
that we may obtain peace. They are but men of war, 


honoured indeed by God's choice, and in spite of all 
momentary excitements, resting in the depth of their hearts 
upon the one true vision of Christian faith. Still after all 
they are but soldiers in the open field, not builders of the 
Temple, nor inhabitants of those " amiable " and specially 
blessed "tabernacles," where the worshipper lives in 
praise and intercession, and is militant amid the unosten- 
tatious duties of ordinary life. " Martha, Martha, thou 
art anxious and troubled about many things : but one 
thing is needful, and Mary has chosen that good part 
which shall not be taken away from her." Such is our 
Lord's judgment, showing that our true happiness consists 
in being at leisure to serve God without excitements. For 
this gift we specially pray in one of our collects : u Grant, 
O Lord, that the course of this world may be so peace- 
ably ordered by Thy governance, that Thy Church may 
joyfully serve Thee in all godly quietness." Persecution, 
civil changes, and the like, break in upon the Church's 
calm. The greatest privilege of a Christian is to have 
nothing to do with worldly politics — to be governed, and 
to submit obediently ; and, though here again, selfishness 
may creep in, and lead a man to neglect public concerns 
in which he is called to take his share, yet, after all, 
such participation must be regarded as a duty, scarcely 
as a privilege ; as the fulfilment of trusts committed to him 
for the good of others, not as the enjoyment of rights (as 


men talk in these days of delusion), not as if political 
power were in itself a good. 

I say, then, that it is a part of Christian caution to 
see that our engagements do not become pursuits. En- 
gagements are our portion, but pursuits are for the most 
part of our own choosing. We may be engaged in 
worldly business without pursuing worldly objects. 
" Not slothful in business," yet " serving the Lord." In 
this then consists the danger of the pursuit of gain, as 
by trade and the like. It is the most common and 
widely-spread of all excitements. It is one in which 
every one almost may indulge, nay, and will be praised 
by the world for indulging. And it lasts through life ; in 
that differing from the amusements and pleasures of the 
world, which are short-lived, and succeed one after 
another. Dissipation of mind, which these amusements 
create, is itself indeed miserable enough ; but far worse 
than this dissipation is the concentration of mind upon 
some worldly object which admits of being constantly 
pursued ; and such is the pursuit of gain. Nor is it a 
slight aggravation of the evil that anxiety is almost sure to 
attend it. A life of money-getting is a life of care. From 
the first there is a fretful anticipation of loss in various 
ways to depress and unsettle the mind, nay, to haunt it, 
till a man finds he can think about nothing else, and is 
unable to give his mind to religion from the constant 


whirl of business in which he is involved. It is well this 
should be understood. You may hear men talk as if 
the pursuit of wealth was the business of life. They will 
argue that, by the law of nature, a man is bound to gain 
a livelihood for his family, and that he finds a reward in 
doing so — an innocent and honourable satisfaction — as 
he adds one sum to another, and counts up his gains. 
And perhaps they go on to argue that it is the very duty 
of man, since Adam's fall, " in the sweat of his face," by 
effort and anxiety, " to eat bread." How strange it is 
that they do not remember Christ's gracious promise, 
repealing that original curse, and obviating the necessity of 
any real pursuit after " the meat that perisheth." In order 
that we might be delivered from the bondage of corrup- 
tion, He has expressly told us that the necessaries of life 
shall never fail His faithful follower any more than the 
meal and oil the widow woman of Sarepta ; that while he 
is bound to labour for his family, he need not be en- 
grossed by his toil — that while he is busy, his heart may 
be at leisure for his Lord. " Be not anxious, saying, What 
shall we eat ? or, What shall we drink ? or, Wherewithal 
shall we be clothed ? For after all these things do the 
Gentiles seek; and your heavenly Father knoweth that 
ye have need of all these things." .... 

I have now given the main reason why the pursuit of 
gain, whether in a large or small way, is prejudicial to 


our spiritual interests — that it fixes the mind upon an 
object of this world. Yet others remain behind. Money is 
a sort of creation, and gives the acquirer even more than 
the possessor an imagination of his own power, and 
tends to make him idolize self. Again, what we have 
hardly won, we are unwilling to part with ; so that a man 
who has himself made his wealth will commonly be 
penurious, or at least will not part with it except in 
exchange for what will reflect credit on himself, and 
increase his importance. Even when his conduct is 
most disinterested and amiable (as in spending for the 
comfort of those who depend on him), still this indulgence 
of self, of pride and worldliness, insinuates itself. Very 
unlikely therefore is it that he should be liberal towards 
God ; for religious offerings are an expenditure without 
sensible return, and that upon objects for which the very 
pursuit of wealth has indisposed his mind. Moreover, if 
it may be added, there is a considerable tendency in 
occupations connected with gain to make a man unfair 
in his dealings ; that is, in a subtle way. There are so 
many conventional deceits and prevarications in the 
details of the world's business, so much intricacy in the 
management of accounts, so many perplexed questions 
about justice and equity, so many plausible subterfuges 
and fictions of law, so much confusion between the 
distinct yet approximating outlines of honesty and civil 


enactment, that it requires a very straightforward mind 
to keep firm hold of strict conscientiousness, honour, and 
truth, and to look at matters in which he is engaged as 
he would have looked on them supposing he now came 
upon them all at once as a stranger. 

And if such be the effect of the pursuit of gain on an 
individual, doubtless it will be the same on a nation. 
Only let us consider the fact that we are a money-making 
people, with our Saviour's declaration before us against 
wealth, and trust in wealth, and we shall have abundant 
matter for serious thought. 

Lastly, the pattern of St. Matthew is our consolation, 
for it suggests that we, Christ's ministers, may use great 
freedom of speech, and state unreservedly the peril of 
wealth and gain, without aught of harshness or uncha- 
ritableness towards individuals who are exposed to it. 
They may be brethren of the evangelist, who left all for 
Christ's sake. Nay, such there have been (blessed be 
God !) in every age ; and in proportion to the strength oi 
the temptation which surrounds them is their blessedness 
and their praise, if they are enabled amid the " wares of 
the seas " and the " great wisdom of their traffick," to 
hear Christ's voice, to take up their cross, and follow 


" Jesus said, Where have ye laid him ? They say unto him, Lord, 
come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how 
He loved him." — John xi. 34 — 36. 

\\T HAT led our Lord to weep over the dead, who 
could at a word restore him ; nay, had it in pur- 
pose to do so ? 

1. First of all, as the context informs us, He wept from 
very sympathy with the grief of others. "When Jesus 
saw Mary weeping, and the Jews also weeping which 
came with her, He groaned in the spirit and was 
troubled." It is the very nature of compassion or sym- 
pathy, as the word implies, " to rejoice with those who 
rejoice, and weep with those who weep." We know it is 
so with men, and God tells us He also is compassionate, 
and full of tender mercy. Yet we do not well know 
what this means, for how can God rejoice cr ,?rieve ? By 
the very perfection of His nature, Almighty God cannot 


show sympathy, at least to the comprehension of beings 
of such limited minds as ours. He indeed is hid from 
us ; but if we were allowed to see Him, how could we 
discern in the Eternal and Unchangeable signs of sym- 
pathy ? Words and works of sympathy He does display 
to us ; but it is the very sight of sympathy in another 
that affects and comforts the sufferer more even than the 
fruits of it. Now we cannot see God's sympathy j and 
the Son of God, though feeling for us as great compas- 
sion as His Father, did not show it to us while He 
remained in His Father's bosom. But when He took 
flesh and appeared on earth, He showed us the Godhead 
in a new manifestation. He invested Himself with a new 
set of attributes, those of our flesh, taking into Him 
a human soul and body, in order that thoughts, feelings, 
affection might be His, which could respond to ours, and 
certify to us His tender mercy. When, then, our Saviour 
weeps from sympathy at Mary's tears, let us not say it is 
the love of a man overcome by natural feeling. It is the 
love of God, the bowels of compassion of the Almighty 
and Eternal condescending to appear as we are capable 
of receiving it, in the form of human nature. 

Jesus wept, therefore, not merely from the deep 
thoughts of His understanding, but from spontaneous 
tenderness, from the gentleness and mercy, the encom- 
passing loving-kindness and exuberant fostering affection 


of the Son of God for His own work, the race of man. 
Their tears touched Him at once, as their miseries 
had brought Him down from heaven. His ear was open 
to them, and the sound of weeping went at once to His 

2. But next we may suppose (if it is allowable to con- 
jecture) that His pity thus spontaneously excited was 
led forward to dwell on the various circumstances in 
man's condition which excite pity. It was awakened, 
and began to look around upon the miseries of the 
world. What was it He saw ? He saw visibly displayed 
the victory of death; a mourning multitude, everything 
present which might awaken sorrow, except him who was 
the chief object of it. He was not — a stone marked the 
place where he lay. Martha and Mary, whom He had 
known and loved in their brother's company, now solitary, 
approached Him, first one and then the other, in far other 
mood and circumstance than heretofore — in deep afflic- 
tion ; in faith and resignation, yet, apparently, with some- 
what of a tender complaint : " Lord, if Thou hadst been 
here, my brother had not died." Such has been the 
judgment passed, or the doubt raised, concerning Him in 
the breast of the creature in every age. Men have seen 
sin and misery around them, and, whether in faith or un- 
belief, have said, " If Thou hadst been here," if Thou 
hadst interfered, it might have been otherwise. Here, 


then, was the Creator surrounded by the works of His 
hands, who adored Him indeed, yet seemed to ask 
why He suffered what He Himself had made so to be 
marred. Here was the Creator of the world at a scene 
of death, seeing the issue of His gracious handiwork. 
Would not He revert in thought to the hour of creation, 
when He went forth from the bosom of the Father to 
bring all things into existence ? There had been a day 
when He had looked upon the work of His love, and 
seen that it was " very good." Whence had the good 
been turned to evil, the fine gold become dim ? " An 
enemy had done this." Why it was allowed, and how 
achieved, was a secret with Him, a secret from all who 
were about Him, as it is a secret to us at this day. 
Here He had incommunicable thoughts with His Eternal 
Father. He would not say why it was. He chose 
another course for taking away their doubts and com- 
plaints. " He opened not His mouth," but He wrought 
wondrously. What He has done for all believers, 
revealing His atoning death, yet not explaining it, this 
He did for Martha and Mary also, proceeding to the 
grave in silence, to raise their brother while they com- 
plained that he had been allowed to die. 

Here, then, I say, were abundant sources for His 
grief (if we may be permitted to trace them), in the con- 
trast between Adam, in the day in which he was created, 


innocent and immortal, and man as the devil had made 
him, full of the poison of sin and the breath of the grave ; 
and again, in the timid complaint of His sorrowing friends 
that that change had been permitted. And though He 
was about to turn back the scene of sorrow into joy 
again, yet, after all, one day Lazarus must die again — 
He was but delaying the fulfilment of His own decree. 
A stone lay upon him now ; and though he was raised 
from the grave, yet, by His own inscrutable law, one day 
he must lie down again in it. It was a respite, not a 


Alas ! there were other thoughts still to call forth His 
tears. This marvellous benefit to the forlorn sisters — 
how was it to be attained ? At His own cost. Joseph 
knew he could bring joy to his brethren, but at no sacri- 
fice of his own. Christ was bringing life to the dead by 
His own death. His disciples would have dissuaded 
Him from going into Judea, lest the Jews should kill 
Him. Their apprehension was fulfilled. He went to 
raise Lazarus, and the fame of that miracle was the 
immediate cause of His seizure and crucifixion. This He 
knew beforehand. He saw the prospect before Him ; — 
He saw Lazarus raised — the supper in Martha's house — 
Lazarus sitting at table — joy on all sides of Him — Mary 
honouring her Lord on this festive occasion by the out- 
pouring of the very costly ointment upon His feet — the 


Jews crowding, not only to see Him, but Lazarus also — 
His triumphant entry into Jerusalem — the multitude 
shouting Hosanna — the people testifying to the raising 
of Lazarus — the Greeks, who had come up to worship 
at the feast, earnest to see Him — the children joining 
in the general joy; and then the Pharisees plotting 
against Him — Judas betraying Him — His friends de- 
serting Him, and the cross receiving Him. These things 
doubtless, among a number of thoughts unspeak- 
able, passed over His mind. He felt that Lazarus was 
wakening to life at His own sacrifice; that He was 
descending into the grave which Lazarus had left. He 
felt that Lazarus was to live and He to die ; the appear- 
ance of things was to be reversed ; the feast was to be 
kept in Martha's house, but the last passover of sorrow 
remained for Him. And He knew that this reverse was 
altogether voluntary with Him. He had come down 
from His Father's bosom to be an atonement of blood 
for all sin, and thereby to raise all believers from the 
grave, as He was then about to raise Lazarus ; and to 
raise them, not for a time, but for eternity. And now the 
sharp trial lay before Him, through which He was to 
" open the kingdom of heaven to all believers." Con 
templating then the fulness of His purpose while going 
about a single act of mercy, He said to Martha, " I am 
the resurrection and the life : he that believcth in Me, 


though he were dead, yet shall he live ; and whosoever 
liveth and believeth in Me shall never die." 

Let us take to ourselves these comfortable thoughts, 
both in the contemplation of our own death, or upon the 
death of our friends. Wherever faith in Christ is, there 
is Christ Himself. He said to Martha, " Believest thou 
this ?" Wherever there is a heart to answer, " Lord, I 
believe," there Christ is present ; there our Lord vouch- 
safes to stand, though unseen — whether over the bed of 
death or over the grave — whether we ourselves are sink- 
ing or those who are dear to us. Blessed be His name ! 
nothing can rob us of this consolation ; we will be as 
certain, through His grace, that He is standing over us in 
love, as though we saw Him. We will not, after our ex- 
perience of Lazarus' history, doubt an instant that He is 
thoughtful for us. He knows the beginnings of our ill- 
ness, though He keeps at a distance. He knows when 
to remain away, and when to draw near. He notes down 
the advances of it, and the stages. He tells truly when 
His friend Lazarus is sick, and when he sleeps. We all 
have experience of this in the narrative before us, and 
henceforth, so be it ! will never complain of the course 
of His providence. Only we will beg of Him an increase 
of faith; a more lively perception of the curse under 
which the world lies, and of our own personal demerits ; 
a more understanding view of the mystery of His cross ; 


a more devout and implicit reliance on the virtue of 
it j and a more confident persuasion that He will 
never put on us more than we can bear, never afflict 
His brethren with any woe except for their own highest 


"Thou God seest me." — Gen. xvi. 13. 

A 1 7"HEN Hagar fled into the wilderness from the face 
of her mistress, she was visited by an Angel, who 
ient her back, but, together with this implied reproof 
of her impatience, gave her a word of promise to en- 
courage her. In the mixture of humbling and cheerful 
thoughts thus wrought in her, she recognized the pre- 
sence of her Maker and Lord, who ever comes to His 
servants in a twofold aspect ; severe, because He is holy ; 
yet soothing, as abounding in mercy. In consequence, 
she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, 
" Thou God seest me." 

Such was the condition of man before Christ came, 
favoured with some occasional notices of God's regard 
for individuals ; but, for the most part, instructed merely 
in His general Providence as seen in the course of 
human affairs. In this respect even the Law was de- 


ficient, though it abounded in proofs that God was a 
living, all-seeing, all-recompensing God. It was de- 
ficient, in comparison of the Gospel, in evidence of the 
really existing relation between each soul of man and its 
Maker, independently of everything else in the world. 
Of Moses, indeed, it is said, that " the Lord spake unto 
him/ace to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." But 
this was an especial privilege vouchsafed to him only, 
and to some others, as to Hagar, who records it in the 
text, not to all the people. But under the New Covenant 
this distinct regard vouchsafed by Almighty God to every 
one of us is clearly revealed. It was foretold of the 
Christian Church : " All thy children shall be taught of 
the Lord ; and great shall be the peace of thy children " 
(Is. liv. 13). When the Eternal Son came on earth in 
our flesh, men saw their invisible Maker and Judge. He 
showed Himself no longer through the mere powers of 
nature, or the maze of human affairs, but in our own 
likeness. u God, who commanded the light to shine out 
of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to kindle the 
knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ ;" that 
is, in a sensible form, as a really existing individual 
being. And, at the same time, He forthwith began to 
speak to us as individuals. He, on the one hand, 
addressed each of us on the other. Thus it wao in some 
sense a revelation face to face. 

2 B 


This is the subject on which I propose now to make 
a few remarks. And first, let me observe, it is very- 
difficult, in spite of the revelation made us in the Gospel, 
to master the idea of this particular providence of God. 
If we allow ourselves to float down the current of the 
world, living as other men, gathering up our notions of 
religion here and there, as it may be, we have little or 
no true comprehension of a particular Providence. We 
conceive that Almighty God works on a large plan ; but 
we cannot realize the wonderful truth that He sees and 
thinks of individuals. We cannot believe that He is really 
present everywhere ; that He is wherever we are, though 
unseen. For instance, we can understand, or think we 
understand, that He was present on Mount Sinai — or 
within the Jewish Temple — or that He clave the ground 
under Dathan and Abiram ; but we do not in any suf- 
ficient sense believe that He is in like manner " about 
our path, and about our bed, and spieth out all our 
ways." We cannot bring ourselves to get fast hold of 
the solemn fact that He sees what is going on among 
ourselves at this moment ; that this man falls, and that 
man is exalted, at His silent, invisible appointment. We 
use, indeed, the prayers of the Church, and intercede, 
not only for all conditions of men, but for the king, and 
the nobility, and the court of parliament, and so on, 
down to individual sick people in our own parish j yet, 


in spite of all this, we do not bring home to us the truth 
of His omniscience. We know He is in heaven, and 
forget that He is also on earth. This is the reason why 
the multitude of men are so profane ; they use light 
words ; they scoff at religion ; they allow themselves to 
be lukewarm and indifferent ; they take the part ol 
wicked men ; they push forward wicked measures ; the> 
defend injustice, or cruelty, or sacrilege, or infidelity, 
because they have no grasp of a truth, while, neverthe- 
less, they have no intention to deny that God sees them. 
There is, indeed, a self-will, a self-deceit, which would 
sin on even in God's visible presence. This was the sin 
of Balaam, who took part with the enemies of Israel for 
reward ; and of Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of the 
Simeonites, on whom Phineas did judgment; and such 
the sin of Saul, of Judas, of Ananias and Sapphira. 
Alas ! doubtless such is the sin of many a man now 
in England, unless human nature is other than it was 
aforetime. Alas ! such a sin is in a measure our own 
from time to time, as any one may know for certain who 
is used to self-examination. Yet, over and above this, 
there is certainly a great deal of profane sinning from 
our forgetting, not comprehending that we are in God's 
presence; not comprehending, or (in other words) be- 
lieving, that He sees and hears and notes down every- 
thing we do. This, again, is often the state in which 


persons find themselves on falling into trouble. The 
world fails them, and they despair, because they do not 
realize to themselves the loving-kindness and the pre- 
sence of God. They find no comfort in a truth which to 
them is not a substance, but an opinion. Therefore it was 
that Hagar, when visited in the wilderness by the angel, 
called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, "Thou 
God seest me !" It came as a new truth to her, that, 
amid her trouble and her waywardness, the eye of God 
was upon her. The case is the same now. Men 
talk in a general way of the goodness of God, His 
benevolence, compassion, and long-suffering; but they 
think of it as a flood pouring itself out through all the 
world — as the light of the sun, not as the continually 
repeated action of an intelligent and living mind, 
contemplating whom it visits, and intending what it 
effects. Accordingly, when they come into trouble, they 
can but say, " It is all for the best — God is good !" and 
the like ; and it all falls as cold comfort upon them, and 
does not lessen their sorrow, because they have not 
accustomed their minds to feel that He is a merciful 
God, regarding them individually, and not a mere uni- 
versal Providence acting by general laws. And then, 
perhaps, all of a sudden the new notion breaks on them, 
as it did upon Hagar. Some especial Providence, amid 
their infliction, runs right into their hearts; brings it 


close home to them, in a way they never experienced 
before, that God sees them. And then, surprised at 
this, which is a something quite new to them, they go 
into the other extreme, in proportion to their former 
apathy, and are led to think that they are especial objects 

of God's love more than all other men 

The most winning property of our Saviour's mercy (if 
it is right so to speak of it), is its dependence on time 
and place, person and circumstance ; in other words, 
its tender discrimination. It regards and consults each 
individual as he comes before it. It is called forth by 
some as it is not by others ; it cannot (if I may so say) 
manifest itself to every object alike ; it has its particular 
shade and mode of feeling for each ; and in some it is so 
wrapt up as to seem to depend for its own happiness on 
their well-being. This might be illustrated, as is often 
done, by our Lord's tender behaviour towards Lazarus 
and his sisters, or His tears over Jerusalem ; or by His 
conduct towards St. Peter, before and after his denial of 
Him ; or towards St. Thomas when he doubted ; or by 
His love of His mother or of St John. But I will 
direct your attention rather to His treatment of the 
traitor Judas, both because it is not so commonly 
referred to, and also, if there was a being in the whole 
world whom one might suppose cast out of His presence 
as hateful and reprobate, it was he who He foresaw 


would betray Him. Yet we shall find that even this 
wretched man was followed and encompassed by His 
serene though solemn regard till the very hour He 
betrayed Him. 

Judas was in darkness and hated the light, and " went 
to his own place ;" yet he found it, not by the mere force 
of certain natural principles working out their inevitable 
results — by some unfeeling fate, which sentences the 
wicked to hell — but by a Judge who surveys him from 
head to foot, who searches him through and through, to 
see if there is any ray of hope, any latent spark of faith ; 
who pleads with him again and again, and, at length 
abandoning him, mourns over him the while with the 
wounded affection of a friend rather than the severity of 
the Judge of the whole earth. For instance, first, a 
startling warning a year before his trial : " Have I not 
chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil ?" Then, 
when the time was come, the lowest act of abasement 
towards one who was soon to betray Him and to suffer 
the unquenchable fire : " He riseth from supper, poureth 
water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet," 
and Judas in the number. Then a second warning at 
the same time, or rather a sorrowful lament, spoken as if 
to Himself: "Ye are not all clean." Then openly: 
" Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall 
betray Me." " The Son of Man goeth, as it is written of 


Him ; but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man 
is betrayed ! it had been good for that man if he had 
not been born. Then Judas, which betrayed Him, 
answered and said, Master, is it I ? He said unto him, 
Thou hast said it." Lastly, when He was actually 
betrayed by him : " Friend, wherefore art thou come ?" 
" Judas (He addresses him by name), betrayest thou the 
Son of Man with a kiss?" I am not attempting to 
reconcile His Divine foreknowledge with this special and 
prolonged anxiety, this personal feeling towards Judas ; 
but wish you only to observe the latter, to observe what 
is given us by the revelation of Almighty God in the 
Gospels, viz., an acquaintance with His providential 
regard for individuals, making His sun to rise on the 
evil as well as on the good. And, in like manner 
doubtless, at the last day, the wicked and impenitent 
shall be condemned, not in a mass, but one by one — 
one by one appearing, each in his own turn, before the 
righteous Judge, standing under the full glory of His 
countenance, carefully weighed in the balance, and 
found wanting ; dealt with, not, indeed, with a weak and 
wavering purpose, where God's justice claims satisfaction, 
yet, at the same time, with all the substantial solicitude 
and awful care of one who would fain make, if He 
could, the fruit of His passion more numerous than it is. 
This solemn reflection may be further enforced by con- 


sidering our Lord's behaviour towards strangers who 
came to Him. Judas was His friend; but we have 
never seen Him. How will He look, and how does He 
look upon us ? Let His manner in the Gospels towards 
the multitude of men assure us. All holy and all almighty 
as He is, and has shown Himself to be, yet in the midst 
of His divine majesty He could display a tender in- 
terest in all who approached Him ; as if He could not 
cast His eyes on any of His creatures without the over- 
flowing affection of a parent for his child, regarding it 
with a full satisfaction, and simply desiring its happiness 
and highest good. Thus, when the rich young man came 
to Him, it is said : " And Jesus beholding him, loved him, 
and said unto him, One thing thou lackest," When the 
Pharisees asked a sign, "He sighed deeply in His spirit." 
At another time, " He looked round about on them," — as 
if on every one, to see if here and there perchance there 
might be an exception to the general unbelief, and to 
condemn, one by one, those who were guilty, — "He 
looked round about on them with anger, being grieved 
for the hardness of their hearts." Again, when a leper 
came to Him, He did not simply heal him, but, " moved 
with compassion, He put forth His hand." 

How gracious is this revelation of God's particular 
piovidence to those who seek Him ! How gracious to 
those who have discovered that this world is but vanity, 


and who are solitary and isolated in themselves, whatever 
shadows of power and happiness surround them ! The 
multitude, indeed, go on without these thoughts ; either 
from insensibility, as not understanding their own hearts, 
or changing from one idol to another, as each successively 
fails. But men of keener hearts would be overpowered 
by despondency, and would even loathe existence, did 
they suppose themselves under the mere operation 
of fixed laws, powerless to excite the pity or the 
attention of Him who has appointed them. What 
should they do especially who are cast among persons 
unable to enter into their feelings, and thus strangers to 
them, though by long custom ever so much friends ? or 
have perplexities of mind they cannot explain to them- 
selves, much less remove, and no one to help them ? or 
have affections and aspirations pent up within them, 
because they have not met with objects to which to 
devote them ? or are misunderstood by those around 
them, and find they have no words to set themselves 
right with them, or no principles in common by way of 
appeal? or seem to themselves to be without place or 
purpose in the world, or to be in the way of others ? or 
have to follow their own sense of duty without advisers 
or supporters, nay, to resist the wishes and solicitations 
of superiors or relatives ? or have the burden of some 
painful secret, or of some incommunicable solitary grief? 


In all such cases the gospel narrative supplies our very 
need, not simply presenting to us an unchangeable 
Creator to rely upon, but a compassionate Guardian, a 
discriminating Judge and Helper. God beholds thee 
individually, whoever thou art. " He calls thee by thy 
name." He sees thee, and understands thee. He 
knows what is in thee, all thy own peculiar feelings and 
thoughts, thy dispositions and likings, thy strength and 
thy weakness. He views thee in thy day of rejoicing 
and in thy day of sorrow. He sympathises in thy hopes 
and in thy temptations. He interests Himself in all thy 
anxieties and thy remembrances, in all the risings and 
fallings of thy spirit. He has numbered the very hairs 
of thy head, and the cubits of thy stature. He com- 
passes thee round, and bears thee in His arms; He 
takes thee up and sets thee down. He notes thy verv 
countenance, whether smiling or in tears, whether health- 
ful or sickly. He looks tenderly upon thy hands and 
thy feet ; He hears thy voice, the beating of thy heart, 
and thy very breathing. Thou dost not love thyself 
better than He loves thee. Thou canst not shrink from 
pain more than He dislikes thy bearing it ; and if He puts 
it on thee, it is as thou wilt put it on thyself, if thou art 
wise, for a greater good afterwards. Thou art not only 
His creature (though for the very sparrows He has a 
care, and pitied the " much cattle " of Nineveh), thou art 


man redeemed and sanctified, His adopted son, favoured 
with a portion of that glory and blessedness which flows 
from Him everlastingly unto the Only-begotten. Thou 
art chosen to be His, even above thy fellows who 
dwell in the east and south. Thou wast one of those 
for whom Christ offered up His last prayer, and sealed 
it with His precious blood. What a thought is this, a 
thought almost too great for our faith ! Scarce can we 
refrain from acting Sarah's part, when we bring it before 
us, so as to " laugh " from amazement and perplexity. 
What is man, what are we, what am I, that the Son of 
God should be so •mindful of me ? What am I, that He 
should have raised me from almost a devil's nature to 
that of an angel's? that He should have changed my 
soul's original constitution, new-made me, who trom my 
youth up have been a transgressor, and should Himself 
dwell personally in this very heart of mine, making me 
His temple ? What am I, that God the Holy Ghost 
should enter into me, and draw up my thoughts heaven- 
ward " with plaints unutterable ?" 

These are the meditations which come upon the 
Christian to console him while he is with Christ upon 
the holy mount. And when he descends to his daily 
duties they are still his inward strength, though he is not 
allowed to tell the vision to those around him. They 
make his countenance to shine; make him cheerful, 


collected, serene, and firm in the midst of all temptation, 
persecution, or bereavement. And with such thoughts 
before us, how base and miserable does the world appear 
in all its pursuits and doctrines ! How truly miserable 
does it seem to seek good from the creature ; to court 
station, health, or credit; to choose for ourselves, in 
fancy, this or that mode of life ; to affect the manners 
and fashions of the great ; to spend our time in follies ; 
to be discontented, quarrelsome, jealous or envious, 
censorious or resentful, full of unprofitable talk, and 
eager for the news of the day ; busy about public matters 
which concern us not ; hot in the cause of this or that 
interest or party ; or set upon gain ; or devoted to the 
increase of barren knowledge ! And at the end of our 
days, when flesh and heart fail, what will be our conso- 
lation, though we have made ourselves rich, or have 
served an office, or been the first man among our 
equals, or have depressed a rival, or managed things 
our own way, or have settled splendidly, or have been 
intimate with the great, or have fared sumptuously, or 
have gained a name ! Say, even if we obtain that which 
lasts longest, a place in history, yet, after all, what ashes 
shall we have eaten for bread ! And in that awful hour, 
when death is in sight, will He, whose eye is now so 
loving towards us, and whose hand falls on us so gently, 
will He acknowledge us any more ? Or if He still speaks, 


will His voice have any power to stir us ? Rather, will it 
not repel us, as it did Judas, by the very tenderness with 
which it would invite us to Him ? 

Let us then endeavour, by His grace, to understand 
rightly where we stand, and what He is towards us : 
most tender and pitiful, yet, for all His pity, not passing 
by the breadth of a single hair the eternal lines of truth, 
holiness, and justice ; He who can condemn to the 
woe everlasting, though He weeps and laments before- 
hand, and who, when once the sentence of condemnation 
has gone forth, will wipe out altogether the remembrance 
of us, " and know us not." The tares were " bound in 
bundles " for the burning, indiscriminately, promiscuously, 
contemptuously. " Let us then fear, lest a promise being 
left us of entering into His rest, any of us should seem 
to come short of it" 


" Thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast 
shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret ; and thy 
Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly."— 
Matt. vi. 6. 

TTERE is our Saviour's own sanction and blessing 
vouchsafed to private prayer, in simple, clear, and 
most gracious words. The Pharisees were in the 
practice, when they prayed by themselves, of praying in 
public, in the corners of the streets ; a strange incon- 
sistency, according to our notions, since in our language 
prayer by one's self is ever called private prayer. Public 
private prayer, this was their self-contradictory practice. 
Warning, then, His disciples against the particular form 
of hypocrisy in which the self-conceit of human nature at 
that day showed itself, our Lord promises in the text His 
Father's blessing on such humble supplications as were 
really addressed to Him, and not made to gain the praise 
of men. Those who seek the unseen God (He seems to 
say) seek Him in their hearts and hidden thoughts, not 


in loud words, as if He were far off from them. Such 
men would retire from the world into places where no 
human eye saw them, there to meet Him humbly and in 
faith who is " about their path and about their bed, and 
spieth out all their ways." And He, the searcher of 
hearts, would reward them openly. Prayers uttered 
in secret, according to God's will, are treasured up in 
God's Book of Life. They seem, perhaps, to have 
sought an answer here, and to have failed of their object. 
Their memory perishes even in the mind of the peti- 
tioner, and the world never knew of them. But God is 
ever mindful, and in the last day, when the books are 
opened, they shall be disclosed and rewarded before the 
whole world. 

Such is Christ's gracious promise in the text, ac- 
knowledging and blessing, according to His own con- 
descension, those devotional exercises which were a duty 
even before Scripture enjoined them ; and changing into 
a privilege that work of faith which, though bidden by 
conscience, and authorised by reason, yet before He 
revealed His mercy, is laden, in every man's case who 
attempts it, with guilt, remorse, and fear. It is the 
Christian's unspeakable privilege, and his alone, that he 
has at all times free access to the throne of grace 
boldly through the mediation of his Saviour. 

But in what I shall now say concerning prayer I shall 


not consider it as a privilege, but as a duty. For till we 
have some experience of the duties of religion, we are 
incapable of entering duly into the privileges ; and it is 
too much the fashion of the day to view prayer chiefly 
as a mere privilege, such a privilege as it is inconsiderate 
indeed to neglect — but only inconsiderate, not sinful — and 
optional to use. 

Now we know well enough that we are bound to be, 
in one sense, in prayer and meditation all the day long. 
The question then arises, are we to pray in any other 
way ? Is it enough to keep our minds fixed upon God 
through the day, and to commune with Him in our 
hearts? or is it necessary, over and above this habitual 
faith, to set apart particular times for the more systematic 
and earnest exercise of it? Need we pray at certain 
times of the day in a set manner ? Public worship in- 
deed, from its very nature, requires places, times, aad 
even set forms. But private prayer does not necessarily 
require set times, because we have no one to consult but 
ourselves, and we are always with ourselves. Nor forms; 
for there is no one else whose thoughts are to keep pace 
with ours. Still, though set forms and times of prayer 
are not absolutely necessary in private prayer, yet they 
are highly expedient ; or, rather, times are actually com- 
manded to us by our Lord in the text : " Thou, when 
thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast 


shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret ; and 
cny Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee 

In these words certain times for private prayer, over 
and above the secret thought of God which must ever be 
alive in us, are clearly enjoined; and the practice of good 
men in Scripture gives us an example in confirmation of 
the command. Even our Saviour had His peculiar 
seasons of communing with God. His thoughts indeed 
were one continued sacred service offered up to His 
Father. Nevertheless, we read of His going up " into a 
mountain apart to pray ;" and again, of His " continuing 
all night in prayer to God." Doubtless you will recol- 
lect that solitary prayer of His, before His Passion, thrice 
repeated, " that the cup might pass from Him." St. 
Peter too, as in the narrative of the conversion of 
Corneliu? the Roman centurion, went up upon the 
house-to^/ to pray about the sixth hour : then God visited 
him. And Nathaniel seems to have been in prayer 
under the fig-tree at the time our Saviour saw him, and 
Philip called him. I might multiply instances from 
Scripture of such Israelites without guile ; which are of 
course applicable to us; because, though they were under 
a divine government in many respects different from the 
Christian, yet personal religion is the same at all times. 
u The just," in every dispensation, " shall live by faith ;" 

2 c 


and whatever reasons there were then for faith to display 
and maintain itself by stated prayer remain substantially 
the same now. Let two passages suffice. The Psalmist 
says, " Seven times a day do I praise Thee, because of 
Thy righteous judgments." And Daniel's practice is 
told us on a memorable occasion : " Now when Daniel 
knew that the writing was signed (the impious decree 
forbidding prayer to any but King Darius for thirty 
days), he went into his house, and his windows being 
open in his chamber towards Jerusalem, he kneeled upon 
his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks 
before his God, as he did aforetime." 

It is plain, then, besides the devotional temper in 
which we should pass the day, more solemn and direct 
acts of worship, nay, regular and periodical, are required 
of us by the precept of Christ and His own example, 
and that of His apostles and prophets under both 

Now it is necessary to insist upon this duty of ob- 
serving private prayer at stated times, because amid the 
cares and hurry of life men are very apt to neglect it ; 
and it is a much more important duty than it is generally 
considered, even by those who perform it. 

The following are two chief reasons for its importance. 

First, it brings religious subjects before the mind in 
regular course. Prayer through the day is indeed the 


characteristic of a Christian spirit ; but we may be sure 
that, in most cases, those who do not pray at stated times, 
in a more solemn and direct manner, will never pray well 
at other times. We know in the common engagements 
of life the importance of collecting and arranging our 
thoughts calmly and accurately before proceeding to any 
important business, in order to the right performance of 
it ; and so in that one really needful occupation, the care 
of our eternal interests, if we would have our minds com- 
posed, our desires subdued, and our tempers heavenly 
through the day, we must, before commencing the day's 
employment, stand still awhile to look into ourselves and 
commune with our hearts, by way of preparing ourselves 
for the trials and duties on which we are entering. A 
like reason may be assigned for evening prayer, viz., as 
affording us a time of looking back on the day past, and 
summing up (as it were) that account which, if we do 
not reckon, at least God has reckoned, and written down 
in that book which will be produced at the judgment. . . 
Stated times of private prayer are useful as impulses 
(so to say) to the continuous devotion of the day. They 
instruct us and engage us in what is ever our duty. It 
is commonly said that what is every one's business is 
practically no one's : this applies here. I repeat it, if we 
leave religion as a subject of thought for all hours of the 
day equally, it will be thought of in none. In all things 


it is by small beginnings and appointed channels that an 
advance is made to extensive works. Stated times of 
prayer put us in that posture (as I may call it) in which 
we ought ever to be ; they urge us forward in a heavenly 
direction, and then the stream carries us on. For the 
same reason it is expedient, if possible, to be solemn in 
the forms of our private worship, in order to impress our 
minds. Our Saviour kneeled down, fell on His face, and 
prayed ; so did His apostles, and so did the saints of the 
Old Testament. 

I now come to the second reason for stated private 
prayer. Besides its tending to produce in us lasting im- 
pressions, it is also a more direct means of gaining from 
God an answer to our requests. He has so sanctioned it 
in the text : " Shut thy door, and pray to thy Father 
which seeth in secret, and He shall reward thee openly.'' 
We do not know how it is that prayer receives an answer 
from God at all. It is strange, indeed, that weak man 
should have strength to move God ; but it is our privi- 
lege to know that we can do so. The whole system of 
this world is a history of man's interfering with divine 
decrees ; and if we have the melancholy power of baffling 
His good will to our own ruin (an awful and incom- 
prehensible truth !) if, when He designs our eternal 
salvation, we can yet annul our heavenly election, and 
accomplish our eternal destruction, much more have we 


the power to move Him (blessed be His name !) when 
He, the Searcher of hearts, discerns in us the mind of 
that Holy Spirit which "maketh intercession for the 

saints according to His will." 

Stated times of prayer, then, are necessary, first, as a 
means of making the mind sober and the general tem- 
per more religious ; secondly, as a means of exercising 
earnest faith, and therefore of receiving a more certain 
blessing in answer than we should otherwise obtain. . . . 
Satan perceives well enough that stated private prayer is 
the very emblem and safeguard of true devotion to God, 
as impressing on us and keeping up in us a rule of 
conduct. He who gives up regularity in prayer has lost 
a principal means of reminding himself that spiritual life 
is obedience to a Lawgiver, not a mere feeling or a taste. 
... Be sure, my brethren, whoever of you is persuaded to 
disuse his morning and evening prayers, is giving up the 
armour which is to secure him against the wiles of the 
devil. If you have left off the observance of them, you 
may fall any day ; and you will fall without notice. For 
a time you will go on, seeming to yourselves to be the 
same as before ; but the Israelites might as well hope to 
lay in a stock of manna, as you of grace. You pray God 
for your daily bread, your bread day by day ; and if you 
have not prayed for it this morning, it will profit you 
little that you prayed for it yesterday. You did then 


pray, and you obtained — but not a supply for two days. 
When you have given over the practice of stated prayer, 
you gradually become weaker without knowing it. Samson 
did not know he had lost his strength till the Philistines 
came upon him. You will think yourselves the men you 
used to be, till suddenly your adversary will come 
furiously upon you, and you will as suddenly fall. You will 
be able to make little or no resistance. This is the path 
which leads to death. . . . Beware then of the subtilty 
of your enemy, who would fain rob you of your defence. 
Do not yield to his bad reasonings. Be on your guard 
especially when you get into novel situations, or circum- 
stances which interest and delight you, lest they throw 
you out of your regularity in prayer. Anything new or 
unexpected is dangerous to you. Going much into 
mixed society, and seeing many strange persons, taking 
share in any pleasant amusements, reading interesting 
books, entering into any new line of life, forming some 
new acquaintance, the prospect of any worldly advantage, 
travelling ; all these things and such like, innocent as they 
are in themselves, and capable of a religious use, become 
means of temptation if we are not on our guard. See 
that you are not unsettled by them ; this is the danger ; 
fear becoming unsettled. Consider that stability of mind 
is the chief of virtues, for it is faith. " Thou wilt keep 
him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, 


because he trusteth in Thee f this is the promise. But 
" the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot 
rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no 
peace, saith my God, to the wicked." Not to the wicked 
only, in our common sense of the word " wicked," but to 
none is there rest who in any way leave their God and 
rove after the goods of this world. Do not indulge 
visions of earthly good, fix your hearts on higher things ; 
let your morning and evening thoughts be the points of rest 
for your mind's eye, and let those thoughts be upon the 
narrow way and the blessedness of heaven, and the glory 
and power of Christ your Saviour. Thus will you be 
kept from unseemly risings and fallings, and steadied in 
an equable way. Men in general will know nothing of 
this ; they witness not your private prayers, and they will 
confuse you with the multitude they fall in with. But 
your friends and acquaintances will gain a light and a 
comfort from your example ; they will see your good 
works, and be led to trace them to their true secret source, 
the influences of the Holy Ghost sought and obtained by 
prayer. Thus they will glorify your heavenly Father, 
and in emulation of you will seek Him; and He who 
seeth in secret shall at length reward you openly. 


" Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples."— 
LukexL I. 

*^PHESE words express the natural feelings of the 
awakened mind, perceiving its great need of God's 
help, yet not understanding well what its particular wants 
are, or how they are to be relieved. The disciples of John 
the Baptist and the disciples of Christ waited on their re- 
spective masters for instruction how to pray. Their need 
has been the need of Christians ever since. All of us in 
childhood, and most men ever after, require direction 
how to pray ; and hence the use of Forms of prayer, 
which have always obtained in the Church. John taught 
his disciples ; Christ gave the apostles the prayer which 
is distinguished by the name of the Lord's Prayer; and 
after He had ascended on high, the Holy Spirit has given 
us excellent services of devotion by the mouth of those 
blessed saints whom from time to time He has raised up 
to be overseers in the Church. In the words of St Paul, 


" We know not what we should pray for as we ought ;" 
but " the Spirit helpeth our infirmities ;" and that not 
only by guiding our thoughts, but by directing our words. 

This, I say, is the origin of Forms of prayer, of which I 
mean to speak to-day; viz., these two undeniable truths : 
first, that all men have the same spiritual wants, and 
secondly, that they cannot of themselves express them. . . 
I suppose no one is in any difficulty about the use of forms 
of prayer in public worship ; for common sense almost 
will tell us that when many are to pray together as one 
man, if their thoughts are to go together, they must 
agree beforehand what is to be the subject of their 
prayers ; nay, what the words of their prayers, if there 
is to be any certainty, composure, ease, and regularity 
in their united devotions. To be present at extempore 
prayer, is to hear prayers. .... 

Let us bear in mind the precept of the wise man : 
" Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart 
be hasty to utter anything before God ; for God is in 
heaven, and thou upon earth ; therefore let thy words be 
few." Prayers framed at the moment are likely to 
become irreverent. Let us consider for a few moments 
before we pray into whose presence we are entering — the 
presence of God. What need have we of humble, sober, 
and subdued thoughts, as becomes creatures sustained 
hourly by His bounty ; as becomes lost sinner;, who have 


no right to speak at all, but must submit in silence 
to Him who is holy ; and still more as grateful servants 
of Him who bought us from ruin at the price of His own 
blood ; meekly sitting at His feet like Mary to learn and 
to do His will, and like the penitent at the great man's 
feast, quietly adoring Him, and doing Him service with- 
out disturbance, washing His feet (as it were) with our 
tears, and anointing them with precious ointment, as 
having sinned much and needing a large forgiveness. 
Therefore, to avoid the irreverence of many or unfit words, 
and rude half-religious thoughts, it is necessary to pray 
from book or memory, and not at random. . . . 

Again, forms of prayer are necessary to guard us 
against the irreverence of wandering thoughts. If we 
pray without set words (read or remembered), our minds 
will stray from the subject; other thoughts will cross 
us, and we shall pursue them ; we shall lose sighi of His 
presence whom we are addressing. This wandering of 
mind is in good measure prevented, under God's blessing, 
by forms of prayer. Thus a chief use of them is that of 
fixing the attention. 

Next, they are useful in securing us from the irreverence 
of excited thoughts. It is true that in certain times of 
strong emotion, grief or joy, remorse or fear, our religious 
feelings outrun and leave behind them any form of 
words. In such cases not only is there no need of forms 


of prayer, but it is perhaps impossible to write forms of 
prayer for Christians agitated by such feelings. For each 
man feels in his own way, perhaps no two men exactly 
alike ; and we can no more write down how men ought 
to pray at such times, than we can give rules how they 
should weep or be merry. As a general rule, forms of 
prayer should not be written in strong and impassioned 
language ; but should be calm, composed, and short. 
Our Saviour's own prayer is our model in this respect. 
How few are its petitions ! how soberly expressed ! how 
reverently ! and at the same time how deep they are, 
and how comprehensive ! — I readily grant, then, that 
there are times when the heart outruns any written words ; 
as the jailor cried out, " What shall I do to be saved ?'' 
Nay, rather I would maintain that set words should not 
attempt to imitate the impetuous workings to which 
all minds are subject at times in this world of change 
(and therefore religious minds in the number), lest one 
should seem to encourage them. 

Granting that there are times when a thankful or a 
wounded heart bursts through all forms of prayer, yet 
these are not frequent. To be excited is not the ordinary 
state of the mind, but the extraordinary, the now and 
then state. Nay, more than this, it ought not to be the 
common state of the mind : and if we are encouraging 
within us this excitement, this unceasing rush and alter- 


nation of feelings, and think that this, and this only, is 
being in earnest in religion, we are harming our minds, 
and (in one sense) I may even say, grieving the peaceful 
Spirit of God, which would silently and tranquilly work 
His divine work in our hearts. This, then, is an 
especial use of forms of prayer, when we are in earnest, 
as we ought always to be, viz., to keep us from irreverent 
earnestness, to still emotion, to calm us, to remind us 
what and where we are, to lead us to a purer and serener 
temper, and to that deep unruffled love of God and man 
which is really the fulfilling of the law and the perfection 
of human nature. 

Let us recollect, the power of praying, being a habit, 
must be acquired like all other habits, by practice. In 
order at length to pray well, we must begin by praying ill, 
since ill is all we can do. Is not this plain? Who, 
in the case of any other work, would wait till he could 
do it perfectly before he tried it ? The idea is absurd. 
Yet those who object to forms of prayer fall into this 
strange error. If, indeed, we could pray and praise God 
like the angels, we might have no need of forms of 
prayer ; but forms are to teach those who pray poorly 
to pray better. They are helps to our devotion, as 
teaching us what to pray for, and how, as St. John and 
our Lord taught their disciples ; and doubtless even the 
best of us prays but poorly, and needs the help of them. . . 


Further, forms are useful to help our memory, and to 
set before us at once, completely, and in order, what we 
have to pray for. It does not follow, when the heart is 
really full of the thought of God, and alive to the reality 
of things unseen, that then it is easiest to pray. 
Rather, the deeper insight we have into His majesty and 
our innumerable wants, the less we shall be able to draw 
out our thoughts into words. The publican could only 
say, " God be merciful to me a sinner." This was enough 
for his acceptance; but to offer such a scanty service was 
not to exercise the gift of prayer, the privilege of a 
ransomed and exalted son of God. He whom Christ 
has illuminated with His grace is heir of all things. He 
has an interest in the world's multitude of matters. He 
has a boundless sphere of duties within and without him. 
He has a glorious prospect before him. The saints 
shall hereafter judge the world, and shall they not here 
take cognizance of its doings ? Are they not in one 
sense counsellors and confidential servants of their Lord, 
intercessors at the throne of grace, the secret agents by 
and for whom He guides His high providence, and carries 
on the nations to their doom ? And in their own persons 
is forgiveness merely and acceptance (extreme blessings 
as these are) the scope of their desires ? else might they 
be content with the publican's prayer. Are they not 
rather bidden to go on to perfection, to use the Spirit 


given them, to enlarge and purify their own hearts, and 
to draw out the nature of man into the fulness of its 
capabilities after the image of the Son of God ? And for 
the thought of all these objects at once who is sufficient ? 
Whose mind is not overpowered by the view of its own 
immense privilege, so as eagerly to seek for words of 
prayer and intercession carefully composed according to 
the number and the nature of the various petitions it has 
to offer ? So that he who prays without plan, is in fact 
losing a great part of the privilege with which his 
baptism has gifted him. 

And further, the use of a form as a help to the memory 
is still more obvious when we take into account the 
engagements of this world with which most men are 
surrounded. The cares and businesses of life press upon 
us with a reality which we cannot overlook. Shall we 
trust the matters of the next world to the chance thoughts 
of our own minds, which come this moment and go the 
next, and may not be at hand when the time of employ- 
ing them arrives, like unreal visions, having no substance 
and no permanence ? This world is Satan's efficacious 
Form, it is the instrument through which he spreads out, 
in order and attractiveness, his many snares ; and these 
doubtless will engross us, unless we also give form to the 
spiritual objects towards which we pray and labour. 
How short are the seasons which most men have to 


give to prayer. Before they can collect their memories 
and minds, their leisure is almost over, even if they 
have the power to dismiss the thoughts of this world 
which just before engaged them. Now forms of prayer 
do this" for them. They keep the ground occupied, 
that Satan may not encroach upon the seasons of 
devotion. They are a standing memorial, to which we 
can recur as to a temple of God, finding everything in 
order for our worship as soon as we go into it, though 
the time allotted us at morning and evening be ever so 


Let us recollect for how long a period our prayers 
have been the standard Fonns of devotion in the Church 
of Christ, and we shall gain a fresh reason for loving 
them, and a fresh source of comfort in using them. I 
know different persons will feel differently here according 
to their different turn of mind ; yet surely there are fev/ 
of us, if we dwelt on the thought, but would feel it a 
privilege to use (for instance, in the Lord's Prayer) the 
very petitions which Christ spoke. He gave the prayer, 
and used it His apostles used it; all the saints ever 
since have used it. When we use it we seem to join 
company with them. Who does not think himself 
brought nearer to any celebrated man in history, by seeing 
his house, or his furniture, or his handwriting, or the very 
books that were his? Thus does the Lord's Frayei 


bring us near to Christ, and to His disciples in every age. 
No wonder, then, that in past times good men thought 
this form of prayer so sacred, that it seemed to them 
impossible to say it too often, as if some especial grace 
went with the use of it. Nor can we use it too often ; it 
contains in itself a sort of plea for Christ's listening to 
us ; we cannot, so that we keep our minds fixed on its 
petitions, and use our minds as well as our lips 
when we repeat it. And what is true of the Lord's 
Prayer is in its measure true of most of those prayers 
which our Church teaches us to use. It is true of the 
Psalms also, and of the Creeds, all of which have become 
sacred, from the memory of saints departed who have 
used them, and whom we hope one day to meet in 

One caution I give in conclusion as to using these 
thoughts. Beware lest your religion be one of feeling 
merely, not of practice. Men may speak in a high 
imaginative way of the ancient saints and the Holy 
Apostolic Church, without making the fervour or the 
refinement of their devotion bear upon their conduct. 
Many a man likes to be religious in graceful language ; 
he loves religious tales and hymns, yet is never the better 
Christian for all this. The works of every day, these are 
the tests of our glorious contemplations, whether or not 
they shall be available to our salvation ; and he who does 


one deed of obedience for Christ's sake, let him have 
no imagination and no fine feeling, is a better man, and 
returns to his home justified rather than the most eloquent 
speaker and the most sensitive hearer, if such men do 
not practise up to their knowledge. > 



2 D